Prevention is always better than cure!
Dame Carol Black’s review of work and health is all over the news in the UK today (17th March 2008). It shows that ill-health is costing the UK economy a whopping £103 billion per year.
The media is really focusing on the huge costs of incapacity benefits, which isn’t surprising – over half of the £103bn figure is spent on long-term incapacity benefits. However, over £13billion is down to the direct costs of sickness absences, and the HSE has previously suggested that the overall costs of sickness absence are typically 2-3 times that figure, or up to £40billion.
At a time when we seem to be heading for recession, can companies afford to be incurring these costs? Are they just an inevitable consequence of doing business?
The big variations in absence rates between different organisations (generally public sector has more absences than private, small companies have lower absences than large) suggest not – there are things that organisations can do, and these things typically pay for themselves several times over.
Dame Carol’s review highlights the need to detect problems early and take action in order to reduce these costs, and proposes a huge expansion of occupational health services such as physiotherapy and stress counselling.
Early interventions like this show massive returns on investment, but nowhere near as great as taking cost-effective preventative action in the first place.
At PostureMinder, our concern is for computer workers’ health.
Although computer jobs clearly aren’t as dangerous as deep sea fishing or working on an oil rig, it does carry risks. The sheer number of computer workers means even low sickness absence rates will contribute hugely to the figures found in Dame Carol’s review.
Not only that, for evey person who takes time off with a back, neck or shoulder problem or RSI, headaches or eye fatigue, the HSE suggests there are up to 15 who suffer in silence.
If you’ve ever suffered back pain through hunching over your keyboard, or found yourself stressed and headachy from working too long without a break, you’ll be aware that the hidden costs of underperformance due to these low-level health issues dwarf even the huge figures in Dame Carol’s review.
The proven solution to minimise these problems is incredibly simple – sit in a good posture at your computer, and take regular short breaks. Easy, right?
If you look around your office, how many people do you see following this simple advice? If your office is like most, it’ll be almost no-one!
That’s why we invented our award-winning well-being and productivity software – PostureMinder – to help computer users to help themselves. It gives you a friendly nudge in the right direction whenever you sit badly or forget to take a break, without trying to force the matter and raise your stress levels in the process! This is great for helping you get over an episode of back pain, and even better for preventing them in the first place.
PostureMinder is an essential tool to help people feel better while they work, and protect their health for the future.
With computer-related musculoskeletal disorders on the increase as more people use computers from an earlier age than ever, it’s never been more important for employers to take preventative action.