Prolonged Standing at Work

The National Retail Federation believes retailers and store owners will hire more than 730,000 seasonal workers this holiday season.  Many of these workers, such as cashiers and sale associates, have only a little time, if any, to sit down during their shift.HSE_Press_Prolonged_Standing_Abbie

Increasingly, workers in a variety of occupations are required to stand for long periods of time without being able to either walk or sit down during their workday.  For example, in operating rooms, nurses and doctors must stand for many hours during surgical procedures.  In retail, sales employees spend a lot of their work time standing without the ability to sit down.  Also, female associates who wear high heels on a regular basis at work are at an increased risk of developing musculoskeletal pain conditions.

A recent study from The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) shows evidence that prolonged standing in the work place leads to a number of negative health problems, including the following conditions:

  • lower back pain
  • physical fatigue
  • muscle pain
  • leg swelling
  • tiredness
  • body part discomfort

There is also significant evidence that prolonged standing at work, primarily in one place, increases the risk of cardiovascular problems and pregnancy outcomes.  NIOSH researchers also found “dynamic” movements appeared to be the best solution for reducing the risk of these health problems.  The ability for workers to move around during their workday, such as walking around, or being able to easily shift from standing to sitting or leaning posture during their shift seems to help reduce these problems as well.

Here are a few things you can use to help prevent these common injuries in your workplace:

  • floor mats
  • shoe inserts
  • adjustable chairs
  • sit-stand workstations
  • compression stockings

Has your workplace addressed the issue of prolonged standing? What has worked? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.