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Shock poll results show 'screen slaving' workers in Wales putting their health at risk

CSP press release published on 19 June 2012

Physiotherapists warn long hours pose posture and stress dangers

Office workers in Wales are putting their mental and physical health at risk by working more than two hours extra each night at home, a new survey for the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) reveals.


Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) of office workers polled in Wales for the CSP said they continued working on smartphones and other devices after they left the office, and spent an average of two hours 42 minutes doing so.


These stints came on top of an average of six hours 27 minutes in front of a screen in the office during their regular working day.


The UK averages were two hours 18 minutes of work at home after six hours 22 minutes in front of a screen in the office.


The results are being released to coincide with the CSP's Workout at Work Day on June 19 when physiotherapy staff across the UK encourage people to be more physically active in order to combat stress and avoid musculoskeletal disorders, like back pain.


On Workout at Work Day about 300 physiotherapists will go into workplaces across the UK to demonstrate easy, low-cost ways for employers to help their staff lead healthier lives.


These include Cardiff-based physiotherapist James Rind, who will be heading to the Welsh Assembly to carry out workstation assessments for AMs and their staff and speak to them about easy ways to be more physically active.



Philippa Ford, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy policy officer for Wales, said:


"A happy, healthy workforce is a productive one and it is very important that employers ensure they do what they can to look after the wellbeing of their staff.


"Sickness absence can be devastating for the individual, and very expensive for employers and society at large so encouraging better working habits is in everyone's interest.


"Workout at Work Day is a great opportunity to demonstrate the easy, low-cost ways people can be more physically active on a daily basis and hopefully act as a launchpad for healthier lifestyles."


The survey of office workers in Wales also revealed:



  • 53 per cent of office workers said their out of hours working had increased in the past two years, but of these people just 13 per cent said their boss was trying to do anything about it.

  • The main reasons cited for doing extra work were to 'ease the pressure of the working day' (32 per cent) and 'want to keep up to date 24/7' (32 per cent), and 'too much work to do' (33 per cent).

  • 37 per cent of people surveyed said additional work at home helped reduce their overall stress levels

  • A worrying 26 per cent want their boss to offer counselling services for stress.

Physiotherapists are concerned that 'over working' is storing up both physical and mental health problems for the future - particularly since 66 per cent of those surveyed reported suffering job-related ill health such as headaches and back pain.


The CSP warned that poor posture when using smartphones and other mobile devices - which many people do their additional work on - can lead to back and neck pain.


Fewer than one in four people told the survey that they considered their posture when looking at screens outside of work. Long hours can also contribute to stress-related illness.


The CSP hopes employers will become more aware of the need to keep their staff healthy, and will use Workout at Work Day to encourage better working habits among staff. Simple low cost measures include:



  • Encouraging staff to report any concerns about their health at an early stage

  • Encouraging staff to take regular breaks and be physically active during lunchtimes

  • Displaying leaflets and posters promoting good posture, health advice and activities for staff

  • Arranging and supporting activities that help staff to get active, like lunchtime walking clubs

  • Creating links with local gyms and clubs

  • Implementing a Cycle to Work scheme and taking advantage of a tax exemption enabling you to loan to staff cycles and cycling equipment as a tax-free benefit

  • Encouraging active travel to and from work e.g. cycling, walking and running

  • Encouraging workstation assessments to reduce and treat musculoskeletal disorders.

Access to physiotherapy, fitness classes and ergonomically-designed chairs were three services that many workers in the survey said they would like their employer to pay for.


The CSP has produced a new free leaflet in association with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development called 'Under Pressure'. This looks at the link between physical activity and mental wellbeing, with advice on staying happy and healthy at work.


For more information about Workout at Work Day or to access free leaflets with advice on staying fit for work, visit www.csp.org.uk/wowd.


The Twitter hashtag for the day is #workoutatwork.


Ends


For further media information about Workout at Work please contact the CSP press office on 020 7306 1111 pressoffice@csp.org.uk . Out of hours call Becca Bryant, head of press and PR (job-share) on 079172 40819 or Jennie Edmondson, head of press and PR (job-share) on 07786-332197, Jon Ryan, media and PR officer on 07917 091200 or Paul Marston, media and PR officer, on 07766 994141.


Notes for Editors



  1. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has 51,000 members and is the professional, educational and trade union body for chartered physiotherapists, physiotherapy students and support workers in the UK.

  2. Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,010 office workers from April 27 to May 9, 2012. Average was calculated by multiplying the mid-point of each option in the scale (e.g. 1-2 hours) by the number of respondents selecting that option then dividing the total by overall base for the question. Respondents saying "less than 1 hour" were counted as 30 minutes/0.5 hours while those saying "none at all" were counted as zero.

  3. Workout at Work Day, part of the CSP's wider `Move for Health' campaign calls on employers and Governments across the UK to recognise the value of occupational physiotherapy in the fight against work-relevant ill-health. Our guides, 'Sickness Costs', 'Fitness Profits' and 'Fit for Work' highlight why employers should keep their staff healthy, and how they can do this. You can find out more about the campaign, and access a range of free resources and information leaflets, at www.csp.org.uk/moveforhealth

  4. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is the world's largest Chartered HR and development professional body, setting global standards for best practice in HR. With over 135,000 members across 120 countries, the CIPD is focused on supporting and developing those responsible for the management and development of people within organisations. For more information, please visit www.cipd.co.uk

  5. To access free resources to help employers improve the health and wellbeing of their employees, visit www.dwp.gov.uk/health-work-and-well-being

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