Drexel Study Confirms Sitting Is Hurting You, Your Employer

sitting hurting you

Sitting has gotten some bad press in recent years. The negative health effects of sitting for long periods and sedentary lifestyle in general are so severe, some are even referring to sitting as “the new smoking.” A sobering study in Annals of Internal Medicine linked sitting for over 90 minutes at a time with nearly a 200 percent greater risk of early death. Moreover, The Washington Post associated hunching over a computer for extended stretches of time with organ damage, muscle degeneration, leg disorders, foggy brain, strained neck, and serious back issues. In 2012, the British Psychological Society (BPS) estimated that in a typical workweek, people spend about 5 hours and 41 minutes per day sitting, more than enough time to take a serious toll on employees’ health.

Natalie Pedersen, JD, professor at the Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business, and Lisa Eisenberg, JD, Kline School of Law alumna, coauthored a paper in which they assert that employers should be held liable for health issues their employees experience as a result of a sedentary lifestyle.

Pedersen told that, “What we were trying to figure out was if there were certain instances where an employer would be liable for those kinds of workers’ compensation claims that might arise from a more sedentary work life. It’s definitely sort of a newer theory.” Pedersen went on to say that as the health risks associated with a sedentary job gain more recognition, “… I think we’ll see more of this sort of liability.”

The paper, “If Sitting is the New Smoking, What Does This Mean for Employers? A Look at Potential Worker’s Compensation Claims in the Sedentary Workplace,” which the coauthors wrote for the Lewis & Clark Law Review, analyzed workers’ compensation claims surrounding sedentary workplaces throughout the US.

Solutions to the sedentary workplace problem, like incentives for employee fitness, standing desks, and breaks built in to the work day are becoming more commonplace. Holding employers legally accountable for the health of their employees in environments with prolonged sitting could lead to a dramatic decrease in premature death and aging.


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