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Sedentary work

Contact centre workers spend a large part of their working day sitting in front of a computer monitor in what is defined as sedentary work (e.g. prolonged periods of inactivity, and an absence of whole body movement).

The human body is designed for movement and should alternate between sitting, standing and activities (e.g. walking).

Benefits of moving

Benefits of sitting less and moving more include:

  • lower risk of musculoskeletal pain, discomfort and injury, particularly of the lower back and neck
  • lower risk of developing coronary heart disease
  • lower risk of developing diabetes
  • lower risk of eye strain or fatigue
  • healthy maintenance of the circulatory system and digestive tract.

Reduce risks

To minimise the health and safety risks from sedentary work, employers can:

  • use job task variation to decrease the total amount of time call handlers are working in sedentary activities
  • provide height adjustable desks that allow call handlers to alternate between sitting and standing
  • use cordless headsets or corded headsets that allow call handlers to stand and move around their workstation during calls, as long as other workers are not adversely affected
  • promote and support standing team meetings
  • ensure all workers take regular and frequent breaks throughout the day in addition to toilet and meal breaks
  • encourage workers to take meal breaks away from their desks
  • locate printers, photocopiers and water coolers away from the workstation to encourage all workers to stand and move around
  • alternate the tasks of workers between sitting, standing and walking.