There are an increasing number of requests for sit to stand workstations resulting from major marketing campaigns on the part of the furniture manufacturers. As well anecdotal headlines such as “sitting is the new smoking” and “sitting will kill you” have led to a large increase in the # of employees who request sit to stand workstations in our practice across Canada.
The science of ergonomics must prevail as it always does in our practice, and remember we do not have any financial conflict of interest such as receiving money for recommending certain types of workstations of equipment.
Rather here are the facts of most of the cases we see in our office side of our ergonomic practice:
- No bona fide medical evidence of anything beyond typical mechanical low back pain is the usual information we receive from employee’s Physicians. Want to learn more about mechanical low back pain – see our earlier blogs and check out Dr Hamilton Hall’s You Tube lectures as he tries to educate MD’s to stop prescribing opiates for low back pain; stop ordering x-rayas and MRI’s; and stop telling employers how to accommodate employees in the workplace.
- Job Demands Analysis that shows that most office related jobs are within greater control by the employee to determine when to stand for example during a phone call, to have impromptu meetings in standing versus sitting; walk around the work areas; stand to read documents; commence walking regularly during lunch breaks etc. The exception of course is in the customer service positions where phone or emails are used to assist with any type of customer service issue.
- Strong evidence that standing statically which occurs with sit to stand workstations will increase heart rate, blood pressure, venous distension in the legs which can contribute to the development of DVT in the case of vulnerable individuals who are at risk for DVT’s. There are numerous gold standard studies including Cornell University’s School of Ergonomics work which clearly show that static standing presents as many if not more health risks than static sitting does!
- Ergonomic and Physiological evidence points strongly to the case for dynamic movement for more sedentary type job demands – this includes standing & walking during phone calls; hold short meetings in standing; walk for at least 20 minutes per day at a pace which elevates the heart rate into the exercise zone; use the stairs regularly at work and at home; wear a fit bit or pedometer to get a real understanding of how sedentary and static people are and use that feedback to become more dynamic thru the workday.
There is no furniture or equipment which provides a panacea for the ergonomic hazards associated with sitting statically or standing statically each day. The real and long-term solution is for employees to alter how they approach work and to become more dynamic during their work day. Most employees want to hear this as much as then their Physiotherapist or Kinesiologists informs them they have to exercise to lose weight and become healthy. Not fun for all but it is a well known fact based on hard evidence.
So next time an employee comes to you and says his/her Physician says you have to purchase them a sit to stand workstation, read the evidence and apply it to your workplace. If not we guarantee at OPC Inc. a can of worms will open & the ergonomic and furniture firms who sell sit to stand workstations for a living will be not too far behind.
The Sr Ergonomic Team at Optimal Performance Consultants Inc.