Office Work Accidents and Illnesses: An Unusual Commonality


Of all the jobs one could possibly take up, being enclosed inside an office for most of your day seemingly offers the safest types of occupations. There is no heavy lifting or large overhead cranes, or dusty mesothelioma causing asbestos fibres, as found in construction work. In addition, an office employer is exempt from using the – dangerous if misused – heavy machinery of labour work such as power tools. In an occupation that involves remaining seated in front of a computer screen all day, not much could go wrong on the safety front. Or at least one would’ve thought. It has however, become evident that the amount of office related injuries are on the rise drastically. This article will look at this reality and its causes.

The Figures

According to the International Labour Office (ILO) office related injuries and illnesses claim in excess of two million lives yearly. Even more worryingly is the estimate that such numbers are on the rise. Furthermore, a staggering 268 million office workers suffer from non-fatal occupational accidents which consequently cause them to miss a minimum of three days of work.

Perhaps most surprising however, is the discovery that there are approximately 160 million new cases of work-related illnesses.

Overall, the ILO estimates that workplace accidents and illnesses account for a massive four per cent of the world’s GDP in the forms of compensation, accidents at work claims and work absence.

In order to understand the reality behind these figures, one must separate office related illnesses and office related accidents. The prevalence of both will come to the surprise of many, who are unaware of health dangers that come with working in an office.

Office Related Accidents

Office related accidents can be anything from falling down stairs to repetitive strains, lifting and carrying and electric shocks. Lifting and carrying in particular accounts for a total of 25 percent of all office related accidents according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Office Related Illnesses

In fact it’s the amount of illnesses however that push the yearly office employee death figures to rise. Thus while, the amounts of occupational accidents are numerous, employees are more likely to suffer from office related illnesses. The risks range from cancers which derive from exposure to hazardous substances, hearing loss, respiratory diseases, and circulatory diseases to name but a few.

All in all, it is clear that greater measures need to be taken to protect workers. Due to the subtlety of the dangers prevalent in office work, health precautions are taken far less seriously as they would in say, construction work. It’s this attitude that needs to change.

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