Assistant Editor, Safety & Health Practitioner

February 13, 2020

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Occupational health

Meet Emma, the colleague of the future

Meet Emma – the colleague of the future, who caused so much of a media frenzy across TV, radio, newspaper, magazines and social media earlier this year.

EmmaThe life-sized ‘Emma’ model has been created based on conclusions from William Higham’s ‘The Work Colleague of the Future’ report, in which he worked with office supply manufacturer, Fellowes and a panel of experts in ergonomics, occupational health and wellbeing at work.

Emma visually demonstrates the impact of the current workstation set-up and how office workers’ bodies could physically change if healthy working is not incorporated into workstation setups and office designs.

Fellowes partnered with a panel of experts in ergonomics, occupational health and wellbeing and a behavioural futurist to create Emma, a life-sized representation of what the average office worker will look like in 2040, if unhealthy working habits continue.

The research suggests that if poor work stations are left unchecked, it will subsequently result to a permanent hunched-back and swollen legs. This is due to bad posture from inadequate chairs and desks, varicose veins from poor blood flow from limited movements and sitting for a long period of time, red eyes from long-hours spent staring at blue screens, hairy ears and nose from low air quality and sallow skin from stress-related eczema.

Researchers also put an emphasis on the importance of workstation risk assessments as they argue it remains largely unaddressed. Nine out of 10 office-workers in the UK report suffering ill health from their work environment. It is estimated that £77 billion a year is the cost of sick days related to work in the UK.

Behavioural expert and author of the research, William Higham, said: “The report shows that employers and workers really need to act now and address the problem of poor workplace health”.

“Unless we make radical changes to our working lives, such as moving more, addressing our posture at out desks, taking regular walking breaks, or considering improving our workstation setup, our offices are going to make us very sick. As a result, workers in the future could suffer health problems as bad as those we thought we’d left behind in the Industrial Revolution.”

Ergonomist, Stephen Bowden, said: “Over time, sitting at a desk all day is going to have a profound effect on office workers’ health, both physically and psychologically”.

For over 100 years, Fellowes has been the name behind intuitive products to help people be the best they can be. More productive. More efficient. Happier. Healthier.

The firm says it understands that bad working habits when using computers, laptops and tablets are a major cause of discomfort, poor performance and absenteeism in the workplace. That’s why it has designed a host of intuitive products and solutions to help desk workers be active, healthy, stay productive and make the most of their day.

Webinar catch up: Health and Wellbeing and Looking After Remote Workers

Catch up or listen again to these essential webinars on best practice for looking after remote and home workers by SHP and Barbour.

Listen to these free webinars to hear from Faye McGuinness, Head of Workplace Wellbeing Programmes and Mind and Heather Beach, Founder of the Healthy Work Company on the current picture of mental health at work and what steps employers can make to improve the experience of remote workers.

Safety Differently

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Nigel Evelyn-Dupree
Nigel Evelyn-Dupree
7 months ago

The only thing missing with Emma as, she clearly is exhibiting WRULD / MSK deformations etc, is “asthenopia” that, unless presenting in a visible lazy-eye / eye-turn wouldn’t be obvious to the observer nevertheless, 13 years ago the HSE RR 561 Medical Review acknowledged 58% of DSE operators were reporting eye-strain now linked to the use of unmitigated, colour audited, standard display screen settings and are to this day still suffering presenteeism by “carrying-on regardless of self-harming”. 2018 did see some nudges in occupational health standards with the introduction of Work Exposure Limits and the dot gov Accessibility Regulations “for… Read more »