The corporate sector is losing billions due to staff absence & low productivity, arising from medical conditions such as Osteoarthritis. Here are some ways for effective OA management at the workplace.
Osteoarthritis (OA), caused by “wear and tear” of the flexible protective cartilage on the ends of bones is a common joint condition affecting millions of people worldwide. Prolonged weight-bearing tends to crack the articular cartilage and the small pieces flake off and float freely in the joint fluid as “loose bodies.” Besides, bony projections arise along the edges of the joints, leading to inflammation, stiffness, and clicking or grinding of the affected joint.
Historically, orthopaedic practitioners have considered OA for the most part as an age-related disease commonly seen in elderly people. However, in more recent times, work scenarios and, more precisely, postures when working that elevate the risk of developing OA are increasingly coming under scrutiny. In particular, postures like squatting, continuous and repetitive bending of the knee, supporting weights on a bent knee, and kneeling can increase the chances of developing OA.
OA is estimated to cost various sectors billions in terms of staff absence attributed to sickness and a sharp drop in productivity. Occupational health specialists underline the need for early intervention by employers, before the problem gets worse. Various studies cited by PubMed show that OA can spark depression in at least 20 percent of those affected, internationally. Therefore, it is important in many instances to address the “triple whammy” comprising of OA, depression, and anxiety.
Proactive steps by enterprises to ensure employees’ health and wellness include pre-employment health assessments, continuous monitoring of employees’ health status, preventing or at least minimizing accidents at the workplace using tools and equipment that are efficient and comfortable to work with, providing employees with fair work breaks, and conducting regular safety training for the workforce.
Management should also consider redeploying people with OA in activities that are physically less taxing and alter their terms of employment, to an acceptable degree. Besides compensation, people like to continue working for the sake of contributing to society, which gives them some satisfaction and feeling of self-worth. That being the case while changing the duties and responsibilities of employees with OA, enterprises must handle their need for respect and self-worth, with care and good judgement.
Employers & employees should together approach the patient’s doctor or physician, for medical advice on how to best work out the most effective OA management plan, at the workplace.
To an extent, employees must share with managers the onus for workplace OA management. They should openly discuss with the management instances of OA in the organization, seeking reasonable adjustments, where the condition is substantially adverse. It has a long-term effect on their ability to carry out day-to-day activities. For example, OA patients require regular work breaks or need to be out of their office in order to meet doctors from time to time. It is a legal obligation in many countries. with the passing of parliamentary statutes, to guarantee equal treatment in access to employment.
As a general rule, all employees should take microbreaks of up to a full minute every quarter hour, as well as vary their posture every once in a while, since there is no such thing as a gold standard for perfect posture.
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