Employee Depression

Employee depression is a serious problem at work. Experts estimate that depression results in more than 200 million lost workdays in the United States annually and may cost US businesses $24 billion or more per year just in absenteeism and lost productivity. Depressed people also tend to have worse safety records.

Employers apparently need to work harder to ensure that depressed employees utilize available support services. One survey found that while about two thirds of large firms offered employees’ assistance programs covering depression only about 14% of employees’ with depression said they ever used one.

Employers therefore need to train supervisors to identify warning signs of depression and to counsel those who may need such services to sue the firm’s employee assistance program. Depression is a disease and it does no more good to tell a depressed person to snap out if it than it would to tell someone with a heart condition to stop acting tired. Typical warning signs of depression (if they last for more than two weeks) include: persistent sad, anxious or empty moods sleeping too little, reduced appetite loss of interests in activities once enjoyed, restlessness or irritability and difficulty concentrating.

Computer Related health problems:

Even with advances in computer screen technology, there’s still a risk of monitor related health problems at work. Problems include short term eye building itching, and tearing as well as eyestrain and eye soreness. Backaches and neck aches are also widespread. These often occur because employees try to compensate for monitor problems (such as glare) by maneuvering in awkward body positions. There may also be a tendency for computer users to suffer from cumulative motion disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by repetitive use of the hands and arms at uncomfortable angles. OSHA has no specific standards that apply to computer workstations. It does have general standards that might apply, regarding for instance, radiation noise, and electrical hazards.

NIOSH (the National Institute of Occupational Safety and health) provided general recommendations regarding the use of computer screens. These include:

1) Give employees rest breaks. Employees should take a 3-5 minute break from working at the computer every 20-40 minutes, and use the time for other tasks like making copies.
2) Design maximum flexibility into the work stations so it can be adapted to the individual operator. For example, use adjustable chairs with mid back supports. Don’t stay in one position for long periods of time.
3) Reduce glare with devices such as shades over windows, and recessed or indirect lighting.
4) Give workers a complete pre-placement vision exam to ensure properly corrected vision for reduced visual strain, Special personal glare screen eyeglasses can lower the effect of glare
5) Allow the user to position his or her wrists at the same level as the elbow.
6) Put the screen at or just below eye level, at a distance of 18 to 39 inches from the eyes.
7) Let the wrists rest lightly on a pad for support.
8) Put the feet flat on the floor or on a footrest.

Workplace Smoking

Smoking is a serious health and cost problem for both employees and employers .For employers these costs derive from higher health and fire insurance as well as increased absenteeism and reduced productivity (which occurs , for instance when a smoker takes a 110 minute break behind the store).

Furthermore nonsmoking employees who are concerned with secondhand smoke are suing their employers. The California environment Protection agency estimates that each year in the United states, secondhand smoke causes 30,000 deaths due to lung cancer and 35,000 to 62,000 illnesses due to heart problems (not all work related).