Employees Take A Stand for Health

Too much time spent sitting behind a desk has been linked to a shortened lifespan.

Too much time spent sitting behind a desk has been linked to a shortened lifespan.

Working for a living can literally be a pain especially if you’re at a desk from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. day in and day out.

A 2010 American Cancer Society study of 120,000 adults suggests the more people sit, the shorter their average life span. This “sitting disease” has been recognized by the scientific community to explain the ill effects of an overly sedentary lifestyle.

There is considerable research linking too much sitting to a variety of serious health concerns including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

Renee Witherspoon, M.S., CSP, CIH, CHMM, occupational and environmental safety section manager with Safety Services, spends much of her day assessing TTUHSC employees to ensure that their work environment is as ergonomic or comfortable and efficient as possible.

But while simple modifications can help reduce the risk of repetitive use injuries like carpal tunnel and eyestrain, Witherspoon said there is more that can be done to offset sitting disease.

“We’re making it work, but there’s a better solution,” Witherspoon said.

To promote a healthier workplace environment, Safety Services is implementing 30 sit-stand workstations in various TTUHSC departments for a free one-year trial.

The innovative workplace technology is available for under $500 at Staples and other approved vendors.

The sit-stand units allow users to easily adjust the working height of their keyboard, mouse and computer screens from a seated position to a standing position.

According to manufacturer Ergotron, the fundamental behind a sit-stand workstation is that it engages all human physiological systems, integrating mechanical, physical and biochemical functions for optimum health.

Standing during the workday has been shown to improve balance, discourage mindless snacking and mitigates the formation of blood clots deep in the legs while strengthening leg, ankle and foot muscles.

Bruce MacNair, M.S., senior safety officer, said he hopes the sit-stand workstations will not only bring awareness to the importance of being more mobile, but also to highlight what Safety Services does for TTUHSC.

“Let us help make your job more comfortable for you,” MacNair said in a recent story in the SafetyNet newsletter.

The Wellness Committee will conduct periodic surveys throughout the trial to gauge whether users of the sit-stand workstations feel more energized, alert and healthy. Some employees have already reported positive results.

“I feel far more alert,” said Keino McWhinney, special assistant to the president. “It feels like I’m at a command center.”

Sharla Cook, benefits coordinator in the Human Resources Department, said she noticed in the first few hours that she could think better, work faster and even felt warmer do to the fact that she was standing while working instead of sitting.

“In addition, I was able to move with more flexibility than usual when I needed to walk out of my office due to the fact that I had been standing and not sitting for several hours,” Cook said. “I’m sure there will be many more benefits as time goes on, but these are big!”

For more information about ergonomics or how you can get an Ergotron sit-stand workstation, contact Safety Services at (806) 743-2597 or safety.services@ttuhsc.edu.

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