Some fast-paced, high-pressure workplaces take a physical toll on their workers. This is counterproductive to the employers because it decreases worker productivity and increases costs. For the employees, they may be literally working themselves to death. Some of the physical effects of an unhealthy workplace include:
1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
According to the Mayo Clinic, carpal tunnel syndrome can be caused by conditions in the workplace that cause repetitive flexing of the wrist, which can damage the median nerve or exacerbate any existing damage. Carpal tunnel syndrome can affect workers who use computers all day, grocery checkers, and assembly line workers, especially if you work in a cold environment.
2. Back Injuries
The main causes of back injuries in the workplace include inadequate training, improper lifting technique, rushing, and a skewed perception of the risks involved with lifting. Once you injure your back, you are significantly more likely to experience another back injury in the future. Employers need to make sure employees who lift have safety gear and are well-trained.
3. Illnesses From Exposure to Toxins
Exposure to toxic substances on the job can cause respiratory, renal, cardiovascular, and reproductive harm. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employees to have protocols in place to reduce workers’ exposure to chemical hazards and toxic substances. Any violation of these standards should be reported to OSHA.
Working long hours can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension. This condition can have serious effects on your health including aneurysm, strokes, heart damage, kidney failure, and even damage to your vision. If you’re working overtime, you may need to cut back your hours to protect your health.
According to OSHA, fatigue can have serious health effects. Aside from reducing your alertness and impairing your ability to make decisions, it can affect your memory and your ability to concentrate. It can also cause you to be irritable and unmotivated. Workplace fatigue can be deadly if you are a driver or you work with machinery, and it can also cause heart problems.
6. Digestive Issues
Workplace fatigue can also cause digestive problems that have symptoms similar to those experienced with irritable bowel syndrome. These can include diarrhea, nausea, constipation, and bloating. These symptoms can also be caused by stress in the workplace. Work stress can also cause you to produce excess stomach acid, leading to indigestion and heartburn.
Depression, stress, and anxiety at work can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes, and there is no cure for this condition. When you’re under stress, your body may not release its insulin. This will eventually cause an excess of glucose in your blood. The longer you’re under stress for, the higher your glucose levels will become.
8. Injuries From Accidents or Explosions
Millions of Americans are injured in non-fatal workplace accidents each year, and approximately 5,000 workers are killed on the job annually. Slip, trip, and fall accidents, fires, explosions, and violence cause many disabilities. They also cost employers millions of dollars. Most of these are preventable injuries that wouldn’t have happened with better training and equipment.
Any of these physical effects of toxic workplaces can lead to lost wages, missed work, and in the most serious cases the permanent inability to work. If you’re experiencing any of these health conditions due to your job, you’re in an unhealthy work environment.