Sometimes there’s very little we can do to avoid missing a few days from work every now and again. Losing a day here and there for short-term problems like a stomach bug is no huge hassle. However, absenteeism through illness or injury can become problematic if it’s recurring or if it forces you to take a prolonged time out of work. In more extreme cases, it could even give you no viable option but to stop working or seek a new job.
Some occupations, by their nature, will carry a persistent risk of certain illnesses or injuries. Where such health hazards are reasonably foreseeable and come as part of the territory, employers have a responsibility to do everything they can to safeguard the health of their staff. It’s a two-way street, though, so employees also carry a duty of care to adhere to safe working practices in their work and not needlessly endanger their colleagues or superiors.
Any job which involves a great deal of manual labor presents a few health risks, such as back pain and musculoskeletal disorders. If you’re lifting or pushing heavy items for several hours a day, injuries like these could easily happen unless all parties in a workplace take the necessary precautions to minimize this risk.
On the face of it, manual and construction jobs seem far more susceptible to serious injuries than office work, but employees who are confined to a desk all day could be just as likely as construction workers to suffer from long-term workplace-related injuries arising from sitting at a desk for several hours a day. Employers should allow desk workers 2-3 short breaks during the day so that they can get up and walk around, which could help greatly to relieve tension in the body.
Asthma is one of the more common workplace illnesses and it is one that can be harder to identify due to its gradual and not visually apparent onset. Also, it could materialize from a wide variety of working environments, from construction sites where workers are regularly near dust to hospitals where allergens or irritants could abound.
Another less obvious but nonetheless abundant work-related health issue is that of hearing loss from exposure to loud noise. Construction workers are again amongst the more vulnerable here, given their proximity to noisy equipment from power tools and heavy machinery. Airport staff, especially those who frequent runways as planes are grounded, could also encounter hearing problems further down the line.
A work-related illness which has come to the fore in more recent times is stress. It’s not a new phenomenon by any stretch, but attitudes towards dealing with the problem have evolved significantly in recent years. Where once the mentality would simply have been to shrug it off and accept it, people are now far more active in dealing with work-related stress by seeking external help for it. One of the best strategies for reducing stress-related absences is to allow employees the freedom to take time out of the office when needed. For instance, giving employees the flexibility to adjust working hours if a family situation so necessitates could help to reduce a lot of pent-up stress.
A few simple actions could help to significantly reduce the frequency of common workplace illnesses, such as adequate training for personnel, regular health screening, the mandatory use of required safety equipment and, most of all, basic common sense from people in the workplace. This infographic from Easy Life Cover talks you through some of the more common illnesses and injuries from working environments and advises on how each of these can be alleviated so that the issue of absenteeism is also alleviated.