Is your office hazardous to your health? Open floor plans, the communal coffee pot and even your work chair can all wreak havoc with your mental and physical health. Top experts and the latest research give you 12 reasons to be extra careful!


Accidents happen

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如果你有笨手笨脚的倾向,那么在工作中登高、滑倒、绊倒和跌倒会让办公室成为一个危险的地方。根据美国劳工统计局(Bureau of Labor Statistics)的数据,2011年需要休假的工伤中,肌肉扭伤、拉伤和撕裂占38%。最常见的是升降伤,占22%,其次是摔伤。美国俄克拉荷马州塔尔萨市(Tulsa)霍根评估公司(Hogan investments)高级顾问迈耶(Kevin Meyer)说,压力过大、工作过度和过度劳累的员工更有可能导致工作场所发生事故和受伤。 

Lifting, slipping, tripping and falling at work make the office a dangerous place if you’re prone to clumsiness. Muscle sprains, strains and tears accounted for 38 percent of injuries requiring time off from work in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Back injuries from “lifting and lowering” were the most common, at 22 percent, followed by injuries from falls. “Stressed-out, overworked and overtired employees make workplace accidents and injuries more likely,” says Kevin Meyer, senior consultant at Hogan Assessments in Tulsa, Ohlahoma, U.S., a firm that specializes in employee productivity. 


Experts recommend finding ways to relieve stress - meditation and exercise, and lifting with your legs — not your back — to reduce the risk of injuries.


An open office plan

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企业为了加强团队间的合作更加亲密,创建了开放式办公室,员工可以共享一个空间。问题是,所有这些同志情感交流都可能适得其反。根据几项研究,高噪音水平和缺乏隐私会增加压力,降低工作环境的满意度,其中一项研究发表在《应用心理学杂志》(Journal of Applied Psychology)上。这项研究让40名办公室职员在模拟典型办公室声音的低强度噪音下工作3个小时。对照组则保持沉默。然后给两组人都出了他们不会的数学题。那些在低噪音环境下工作的人只尝试了几次就放弃了,而在安静环境下工作的人则继续工作。

Team-building trends in corporate environments gave rise to open office plans, where employees share a common space. Problem is, all that camaraderie can backfire. High noise levels and a lack of privacy increases stress and reduces satisfaction with the work environment, according to several studies, including one published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The study subjected 40 clerical workers to three hours of low-intensity noise that simulated typical office sounds. A control group experienced silence. Both groups were then given unsolvable (unbeknownst to them) math problems. Those who were subjected to the low-level noise gave up after only a few attempts, while workers from the quiet environment plugged on.


Experts recommend employees who are bothered by noise wear headphones or ear buds.


Green offices

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丹佛国家犹太健康中心(National Jewish Health)的哮喘专家内森·拉宾诺维奇(Nathan Rabinovitch)博士说,节能工作场所保护了环境,节约了能源成本,但它们也可能让哮喘患者的呼吸变得更加困难。我们如此高效地封锁了空气从屋顶和窗户进入的办公区域(这节省了能源),以至于所有的东西都被困在里面,让人生病。拉比诺维奇说,地毯上产生的污染无处可去,它会进入肺部。

Energy-efficient workplaces protect the environment and save energy costs, but they may also make breathing more difficult for people with asthma, says Dr. Nathan Rabinovitch, an asthma specialist at National Jewish Health in Denver. “We’ve become so efficient at sealing off areas where air would come in (which saves energy) through the roof and windows that everything gets trapped inside, which makes people sick.” The pollution kicked up from carpeting has nowhere to go, and it settles into the lungs, Rabinovitch says.


If you suffer from frequent coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath, ask your doctor about medications such as inhaled corticosteroids.


Germy male co-workers 

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Sharing an office with co-workers puts you at risk for exchanging germs, but it’s more likely if your cube mate is male, according to a study conducted by microbiologists and scientists at San Diego State University and the University of Arizona. Researchers found 10 percent to 20 percent more bacteria in men’s offices than in women’s. “Men are at a greater risk for catching bugs like the norovirus as they often don't pay as strict attention to hand hygiene as women do after using the restroom,” says Michael Schmidt, a microbiologist at the Medical University of South Carolina who was not involved with the study. In addition, a man’s larger body size also gives him more bacteria to spread.


Wash your hand frequently and clean your work areas with a bleach solution to keep bacteria in check.


Communal coffee pot

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The office coffee pot is second only to day-care centers as the most likely place to find norovirus, Schmidt says. Norovirus is highly contagious and can be passed along simply by touching an infected person or through contaminated food or water. The virus causes stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea, along with fever and body aches. “Aggressive attention to proper hand hygiene with soap and water and/or alcohol hand gel is a must to prevent you from ‘eating’ a dose,” Schmidt says.


“Anyone who’s been sick should not prepare coffee, lunch or cut cake until three days after their symptoms are gone. And use bleach on all common areas.”

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