Sarasota, FL (WorkersCompensation.com) — Call center employees are the focus of new government-funded research to prevent sedentary behavior. A program in Oregon will evaluate whether and how well various interventions decrease prolonged sitting and improve the health of these workers.
Call center employees are described as among the most inactive workers in the U.S. and sit longer than employees in any other occupation. In addition to spending up to 83 percent of their work hours seated, experts say they are more likely to be sedentary during non-working hours than employees in other sedentary jobs.
“Sedentary behavior is related to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It is also associated with an increase in musculoskeletal (muscle and bone) injury,” according to a report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. “Furthermore, sedentary behavior is linked to a greater risk of death from any cause.”
NIOSH researchers at the Oregon Health Workforce Center are evaluating various organizational and individual interventions. Physical workplace alterations and changes in the way supervisors interact with employees are among the organizational interventions. Individual level strategies include changing employee health and safety behaviors, such as increasing the use of available equipment, through training, monthly safety and health activities and active workstations.
“Previous research found that standing desks and walking workstations reduce back pain, musculoskeletal complaints, and overall sedentary time, which relates positively to improved mood, job satisfaction, and general well-being,” according to the report. “This study aims to increase use of standing desks, and will add active workstation equipment to the environment to impact employee safety and health.”
The researchers will use computer based training, along with “transfer of training via an evidence based intervention website where participants will self-monitor behaviors related to safety and health,” the report said.
NIOSH is seeking to enlist call centers with employees willing to participate in the training and activities. “…the interventions will not compromise the quality or quantity of work employees are able to accomplish,” the researchers point out. “The findings of this research study will be valuable to your organization because they will help us better understand how we can impact the call center environment to improve worker health. Healthy employees are happier and more productive.”
The results of the study could impact other professions, where sitting is the norm. “The number of sedentary jobs in the U.S. has increased steadily since the 1960s and there are currently over 30 million sedentary workers in the U.S.” the report said. “As the number of sedentary jobs in the U.S. continues to rise, effective methods to reduce sedentary behavior and exposure to sedentary work environments are increasingly important.”