Today I celebrated a moment of great self-care for my workplace – I spent my first workday at my new stand- up desk! Recent studies have shown that sitting for extended periods of time is harmful. The inactivity and the unnatural body posture caused by sitting for long periods of time negatively impact all body types. Even normally healthy people will suffer ill health from sitting extensively.
So I built a desk where I work standing up! I added to my new creation a “wellness mat” that I stand on to ease any tension in my legs. I feel cared for and energized.
What I discovered in this process is how long I was willing to suffer with back pain and knee pain before I took action. I care a lot for my body and invest in gym memberships, yoga passes, healthy food and meditation classes. I enjoy being healthy, fit and well…..yet I was willing to sacrifice my well being for my work. My work ethic overruled my health ethic.
Recently, my loved one, Jacob, came home with cracked, red and irritated hands. He is a metal fabricator and had spent his day working with grease and then a harsh industrial paint. His hands were covered in paint and grime. The irritation on his hands was extremely painful. I asked him if his employer provided him with gloves to protect himself from the irritating chemicals. Yes, his workplace had protective gloves. He knew where to find them, but they were across the shop from his workstation. He was engrossed in his task. Here is how he describes his thoughts:
I get so focused on my task that I don’t want to stop. I just want to keep focused. Stopping to find protective gloves would have interrupted my thought process and work flow. I just wanted to get the work done
Interestingly enough, after greasing the deadline anchor that he was working on, Jacob needed to clean up the mess on his hands. He used some degreaser that was in the shop. The degreaser began to irritate his hands and caused what looked like skin ulcers. Alarmed he needed to hunt down his supervisor and first aid attendant to find the MSDS on the product. Yes, the degreaser can cause dermititis and skin ulcers in people who have sensitivities. The combination of the degreaser, the soap and the handcleaner that he used to try to remove the grease may have also caused a chemical reaction.
Then Jacob went on to paint the deadline anchor. The thick industrial paint got on his arms and hands. It coated his hands in a thick crust. An hour of scotch brite scouring pads at home finally got off the paint.
Mission before Man!
Maybe it is not for lack of caring that workers do not care for themselves. Quite often it is the case that they care too much.
Across the land, in every workplace, we have hard working Canadians who are working themselves to injury or literally to death.
Just get the job done!
If only we could care enough to stop this cycle. Jacob made another interesting comment to me:
Sometimes I see other workers doing things that I know aren’t safe. For example, I see young guys positioning themselves in the path of danger. If a clamp holding a heavy piece failed, they could be crushed.
Experience can help us teach others. Send a message to fellow workers to take measures to care for themselves and to work safely. We can work as a team and all go home healthy and safe at the end of the day.
That is a sign of caring.