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Prolonged Sitting at Work Could Be a Legal Issue for Some Companies

by Will M on August 28, 2013

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Standing at Work

With the risks of prolonged sitting potentially affecting companies both legally and financially, even something as simple as getting up to talk instead of staying seated and emailing about the lack of cover sheets on TPS reports would be greeeaat. (Photo: 20th Century Fox)

As it becomes more and more obvious that sitting all day in an office is a health issue, it stands to reason that it may soon become a legal issue as well, especially for countries which mandate a “duty of care” for their employees. One such country is Australia, which has already seen a paradigm shift toward less sitting in the office due to the lobbying efforts of the country’s National Heart Foundation.

According to a News.com.au article entitled “Treadmill Desks Part of Office of the Future as Sitting Becomes Legal Issue,” Australian companies are “responsible for the health and safety of their employees” and, due to mounting evidence of the risk involved with being sedentary, that makes them legally “obliged to take positive steps to address that risk.”

This means more standing and walking, which of course means a rising prevalence of treadmill desks – one of the best ways to ensure more standing and walking at the office. But, as National Heart Foundation acting chief executive Wendy Keech points out in the article, this risk can also be lowered by things as simple as walking to a coworker instead of emailing or standing while on the phone.

Even though many workers may be exercising on their own time, this still doesn’t relieve companies of their obligation. As we’ve pointed out on this blog before, even regular exercise doesn’t negate the effects of prolonged sitting. For companies legally responsible for the health of their employees, getting employees out of their chair at regular intervals is a must. It’s comparable to the same health risks which led to a ban on smoking in the workplace in some Australian states.

What does this mean for Americans? Well, in an age where health care is becoming more and more tied to employment, it may not be a legal issue, but it certainly may become a Bottom Line issue. Companies may want to begin to take a proactive approach to getting their workers standing and walking at work. For those that provide employee healthcare, outfitting an office with standing desks or treadmill walk-stations may seem like an investment now, but one that could actually save money in the long run.

Learn more about standing and walking at work at TheHumanSolution.com

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Written by Will M

Will M

Will Moore has been with The Human Solution since 2011, and currently resides in Austin, Texas, with his lovely wife Angie and their dog Eli. When not writing about or selling ergonomic furniture, he’s usually catching a live music show or watching a movie at the Alamo Drafthouse. He enjoys bacon, Pearl Jam, and sitting in a Steelcase Amia Chair when not using his desk’s standing capabilities (ah, the perks of working at THS). He is responsible for spearheading the very popular Music Friday at THS, in which a theme is picked and everyone plays a song in turn, culminating in the entire office ceremonially playing “Who Let the Dogs Out,” no matter what the theme, every Friday at 6 pm when we close.

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