Yant Award Lecture Covers Standing, Sitting in the Workplace

Yant Award winner Karen Messing's lecture covered standing and sitting in the workplace and how examining genders can benefit ergonomists.

AIHce's 2014 Yant Award winner, Karen Messing, from the University of Quebec-Montreal, gave a lecture on the second day of the conference relating to standing and sitting in the workplace, explaining how a gender analysis can help ergonomists understand the effects of working postures.

She started out by using the example of a grocery store clerk. It has been determined that the job does not require standing, yet most grocery store clerks in North America do stand. In most other parts of the world, they sit. She then covered the two main questions of her lecture: Is standing a problem? Is sitting a problem? Various research has pointed out that, in fact, both provide different problems. Those who stand all day can face cardiovascular, back, and lower limb problems, while those who sit all day can face an overall mortality risk, as well as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

Messing then covered how both men and women deal with standing and sitting in the workplace. In the Quebec Health and Social Survey, 2000, both men and women reported high levels of foot and lower limb problems from standing. More women reported problems than men. This could either be because they actually faced more injuries than men, or because women are more likely to report injuries than men.

Messing concluded her presentation by pointing out that both standing and sitting pose risks, and a good mix of sitting, standing, and walking in the workplace would be the most beneficial. She suggested that, moving forward, there needs to be more open dialogue between workers and employers regarding injuries or illnesses faced at work from either sitting or standing. Scientists, ergonomists, and workers come from different worlds, but if they collaborate, they can make progress, she stressed.

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