Workers Health & Safety Centre

Duration of occupational sitting linked to increased mortality study finds

A recent Japanese study that tracked workers for 10 years found those who spent the most time sitting on the job had an increased risk of death.
The Japanese Public Health Centre-based prospective study set out to examine the relationship between occupational sitting time and all-cause mortality. Researchers collected data from a large sample of Japanese workers, of whom 36,516 agreed to complete 10-year follow-up questionnaires.
The self-administered questionnaire asked about occupation and overall physical health. To assess activity levels at work, workers were also asked about the amount of time they spend sitting, walking, standing and doing strenuous tasks.  

Findings suggest dose-response relationship

With this study, researchers explored the impact of occupational sitting time independent of other factors. Their results found duration of occupational sitting was associated with higher mortality among primary industry workers in agriculture, forestry and fishing. The association was significant among agricultural workers. There was no similar association found among salaried and professional workers. The authors suggest the latter may have greater freedom to sit or stand on the job.
The findings suggest the need for additional research which explores a possible dose-response relationship between occupational sitting time and worker health. A growing body of research on the health impacts of sedentary work have already found associations with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and a number of musculoskeletal disorders.
Other related resources:
Excessive sitting leads to significant risk to worker health
Sitting on the job resource line hazard bulletin
For our part, the WHSC offers a suite of specialized training programs to help workplace parties understand the importance of designing work to fit the needs of workers including limiting sedentary work. 
For additional information about WHSC training and to learn more about our specially-priced ergonomics training during the month of February in support of Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day:
Call:   1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a training service representative