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Old 14th June 2010, 08:33 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Jobs are hazardous to health

Jobs are hazardous to health



Most problems arise from improper posture, repeating the same motions or simply sitting all day

By April Chong
Mon, Jun 14, 2010
Mind Your Body, The Straits Times


Many jobs come with health risks. Most problems arise from improper posture, repeating the same motions or simply sitting all day.

OFFICE WORKER

An office worker is at his desk for about eight hours, often staring at the computer screen.

The main physical activities are toilet and lunch breaks and the occasional staff meeting.

Repeated use of the computer mouse can lead to wrist and finger problems, while poor posture can take a toll on the body.

Such workers often have neck, shoulder, lower back and buttock pain. Sometimes, there is numbness in the hands and fingers, and even leg and calf pain caused by lower back problems, said Dr Bernard Lee, the director of the Singapore Pain Care Centre.

Besides the physical stresses, job stress too can cause neck and shoulder muscles to tense, leading to spasms.

Hence, management-level workers tend to have more neck pain than back pain, observed Dr Lee. Some workers, such as pregnant women, should avoid sitting at their desks for long periods of time.

Doing so increases the risk of deep vein thrombosis, a potentially fatal condition where clots form in the leg veins.

Pregnant women should do leg exercises regularly while sitting and take short walks at least once every hour, said Dr Chee Jing Jye, the medical director of The Obstetrics and Gynaecology Centre.

In general, doctors advise office workers to take a few minutes' break from their desk every hour.

Workers should also check their sitting posture and make sure their chair, table and computer screen are at a suitable height such that their backs are straight, eyes are levelled with the computer and wrists are resting on the table.

Having support for the wrists and a comfortable mouse size can reduce hand and wrist strain. In addition, proper lighting and computer screen brightness can reduce the toll on the eyes.

People who spend long hours in front of the computer can get eye fatigue, strained or dry eyes.

These can be managed by taking breaks and using lubricating eyedrops, said Associate Professor Leonard Ang, the medical director of The Eye and Cornea Transplant Centre.


CABBY

A taxi driver is sometimes at the wheel for more than 12 hours a day. In the cab, there is little room for stretching and he has to stay alert all this time.

This sedentary job causes back muscles to weaken. As a result, cabbies are more at risk of lower back pain and should do back strengthening exercises, said Dr Bernard Lee, the director of the Singapore Pain Care Centre.

Prolonged periods of sitting also hinder proper blood flow and can cause blood clots to form in the leg veins. The clots may then block blood flow to and from the heart and lungs with serious consequences.

Dr Chiam Tut Fu from SportsMed Central noted that cabbies tend to do little exercise, making them prone to unhealthy weight gain.

Doctors advise those who drive all the time to take frequent breaks outside the vehicle and not just sit in the cab while resting.

Chatting with passengers does help the cabby to stay alert and stave off boredom.


SPORTSMAN

A sportsman may spend hours every day practising a particular sport and building up stamina and muscles by running, swimming and hitting the gym.

He or she is in danger of overusing certain parts of the body when repeating the same motion over and over, said Dr Roger Tian, an associate consultant sports physician at the Singapore Sports Medicine Centre in partnership with Changi Sports Medicine Centre.

Some examples are athletes who do endurance sports such as distance runners, swimmers and triathletes, like Spain's Alejandro Valverde. Some athletes may also overtrain without having enough rest periods in between.

Injury is also a common hazard especially in contact sports such as basketball and soccer, added Dr Tian.

The sportsman should resist overtraining and correct any wrong techniques that cause injuries.

He should have proper work-rest cycles and wear appropriate footwear, said Dr Chiam Tut Fu from SportsMed Central.

Dr Lynette Ng, the dental director at The Dental Studio said that sportsmen tend to have acid-eroded teeth from consuming acidic sports drinks.

This can cause teeth to become highly sensitive and, in severe cases, teeth may become small and short and need crowning.

Sportsmen should alternate between water and sports drinks and use tooth mousse or toothpaste that can protect the teeth, she said. Such mousse or toothpaste work to harden enamel and protect against acid.


TEACHER

A teacher has to stand for hours daily, raising his arms to write on the board.

He also spends hours at the desk doing paper work, preparing for lessons and marking. He frequently has to project his voice or raise it in the classroom.

Repeated voice abuse leads to vocal nodules or polyps which are little bumps on the vocal cords.

This affects the strength and quality of the voice which can become hoarse and breathy when speaking, said Dr Pang Yoke Teen, a senior ENT (ear, nose and throat) consultant at the Centre for Ear, Nose, Throat, Allergy and Snoring.

Proper voice techniques, for example voice projection, to avoid straining the vocal cords, drinking plenty of water, avoiding excessive coffee, tea, gaseous drinks and acidic food can stave off this problem.

Teachers very often complain of neck and shoulder pain with headaches.

They may also have back and knee pain, said Dr Bernard Lee, the director of the Singapore Pain Care Centre.

They tend to have myofascial pain syndrome - trigger point pain caused by repetitive strain - and also fibromyalgia, a condition where there are generalised muscle and joint aches.

Fibromyalgia, in particular, is a more chronic condition than the aches felt by office workers, said Dr Lee. Other symptoms of this condition, which is brought on by stress, include sleep disturbances and headaches.

Proper exercise, rest and relaxation to relieve fatigue and stress can help.

Teachers' feet may also be stressed from standing up all day.

So proper footwear should be worn and flexibility exercises for the calves and feet should be done, said Dr Roger Tian, an associate consultant sports physician at the Singapore Sports Medicine Centre in partnership with the Changi Sports Medicine Centre.


MANUAL WORKER

A manual worker spends at least one-third of the day bending and lifting heavy objects repeatedly. The workplace may have hazards that can lead to falls or injuries.

The prolonged bending, carrying of heavy loads and improper carrying or lifting techniques can increase pressure on the intervertebral discs and joints of the spine.

This leads to backache or degenerative disc problems, said Dr Roger Tian, an associate consultant sports physician at the Singapore Sports Medicine Centre in partnership with Changi Sports Medicine Centre.

Other common wear and tear areas include the hands, wrists and knees.

Corneal abrasions or scratches can happen and can be caused by airborne particles that strike the eye during drilling or hammering, said Associate Professor Leonard Ang, the medical director of The Eye and Cornea Transplant Centre.

Aside from taking safety precautions such as wearing protective gear, having the proper lifting techniques and improving the strength of the core muscles - such as spinal, abdominal, and buttock muscles - will help, said Dr Tian.

Proper lifting techniques include keeping the back straight and the load close to the body.

The manual worker should also have enough rest to recover from the daily mechanical stress.

Source: http://www.asiaone.com/Health/Wellne...03-219994.html

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