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The Hidden Health Risks of Work-Related Disabilities and Early Workforce Departure

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Mason Walker
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The Hidden Health Risks of Work-Related Disabilities and Early Workforce Departure

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Work-Related Disabilities and Health Risks

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A recent research study conducted by a team at West Virginia University, led by Dr. Christopher Martin, reveals a possible link between premature workforce departure due to non-life-threatening, work-related disabilities and the development of serious health problems. The study primarily focused on conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and low back pain. Results showed that individuals disabled because of these conditions had a 40% higher overall risk of death. Furthermore, the study indicated specific increases in deaths from cancer, heart disease, suicides, and overdose deaths.

The research findings suggest that the longer individuals remain on disability, the greater the increase in deaths. This discovery highlights the need for more awareness about the health implications of workforce departure due to disability. Dr. Martin plans to refine his study further by including other variables and conducting a separate study focusing on workforce participation and health status.

The Social Determinants of Health

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Besides increased mortality, the research also emphasized the pattern of social determinants of health that emerge when people transition out of work. This transition often leads to negative impacts on physical activity, weight gain, and the onset of associated disorders like diabetes.

The Risks of Sedentary Work

Workplace health risks aren't limited to physical disabilities. A study from Taiwan found that people who spend most of their work time sitting were at least 16 percent more likely to die earlier than those who are more active at work. The risk of dying from cardiovascular disease was 34 percent higher for the predominantly sitters. However, those who combined sitting with standing or moving around did not experience an increased risk. The researchers suggested several workplace changes to reduce these risks, including standing tables, activity-permissive work stations, more frequent breaks, designated workplace areas for physical activity, and company-sponsored group activities and gym membership benefits.

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Considerations Before Leaving the Workforce

While leaving a job may be necessary due to health or other reasons, it is crucial to consider the potential impact on health and wellbeing before making such a decision. Being personally and financially prepared before quitting without another job lined up is vital. Prospective employers often require an explanation for employment gaps, so it's essential to strategically frame your decision around health or other valid reasons.

Takeaway

Work-related health issues require more recognition and understanding. From work-related disabilities leading to early workforce departure to sedentary jobs, these factors can significantly impact one's physical health. Employers, employees, and health professionals need to be aware of these risks and take necessary actions to mitigate them. Regular physical activity, workplace health policies, and effective health management strategies can go a long way in improving the overall health of workers.

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