Safety Culture Solutions for “Sitters”

Safety Culture Solutions for "Sitters"--Call to Action!Studies over the last year have shown that workers who sit more than four hours a day are at significant risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer. Those who sit six or more hours have a much greater chance of getting Type II diabetes. The dangers are especially worrisome for office employees. Thankfully, developing safety culture solutions for the problem of extended sitting is relatively easy.

Though the Kansas State study followed over 60,000 men, scientists feel women are equally affected. Overall, the longer a person sits, the more likely it is he will suffer from a chronic disease. Another study involving over 200,000 people showed that those sitting for eight or more hours a day had a much higher chance of dying, even if they were physically active at other times in the day.

Prior to these studies, most doctors recommended increased activity to their patients. Now the emphasis is shifting to reducing sitting time instead of worrying so much about activity levels.  50 things you must know about safety leadership

In the studies, the problem occurred among all demographics and depended solely on how much a person spent sitting over the course of a day. It didn’t matter their age, income, weight, height, education, activity level or other safety culture solutions used in their offices. Even people with similar body mass index, or BMI, had significantly different levels of chronic disease, depending on how much sitting they did over the course of a day.

This doesn’t mean that being active is unimportant. Doctors have the statistics proving that physically active patients have reduced risk of chronic disease like high blood pressure. But beyond that, sitting is a significant factor in how healthy a person is.

Among the problems found in people who sit for much of the day are:

  • larger waist size
  • higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides
  • higher blood sugar levels
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • depression
  • Alzheimer’s

The Solution: Stand and Move

The safety culture solutions for this problem are easy: get up and move five minutes out of every hour and switch your office furniture. Just the simple act of regularly standing up has big big advantages: increased calorie burn and metabolism, toned muscles and increased  blood flow throughout the body. Many office workers have found help using computer timers that automatically ring to remind them to move around at regular intervals.

Office furniture like TrekDesk can also help relieve the problem of constant sitting. Standing desks, the kind that Bob Cratchit used in Dicken’s England, are returning in popularity. Sit-to-stand products like adjustable desks that allow for instantaneously changing from a  sitting to a standing position make it easy to move without  breaking your  concentration.

Some offices boast treadmill desks, which are an expensive but effective way to keep moving as you work. Most workers set them at 1 or 2 m.p.h., but most will go as fast as 4 m.p.h., a fast walk but slower than a jog. The treadmill has a wide desk spanning it that can easily hold a computer, monitor and keyboard.

fctc-online-bannerIt doesn’t matter if you simply get up and walk around periodically throughout the day, get a high tech desk or even add in a treadmill. The key is moving on a regular basis throughout the day to avoid chronic disease and premature death. This three-minute video offers options for the sedentary office worker.

~Mary Hannick

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About the Author

safetyBUILT-IN is the safety-leadership learning and development division of SCInc. We believe sustainable safety performance is best achieved through a core-values based safety culture, and that culture must be driven by leadership. Our safety-leadership programs are competency-based, and focused on performance outcomes. We believe in building capability and ownership into our client organizations—as well as sustainability into our programs—so that our clients can continue running those programs long after we’re out of the picture. Our emphasis is on building better leadership presence, better leadership communication and better leadership coaching by first building relationships of trust with people and learning how to engage them on the level of their core values and beliefs.