Work can be a health hazard.

We are taught from an early age to watch out for danger, whether it’s looking left and right when crossing the road, or double checking the front door is locked when leaving the house. As we get older and the humdrum of daily life takes over, these things become second nature, and the dangers that we see in the world shift perspective. For a lot of us, worrying about our health is a big part of getting older, and with a constantly shifting NHS it is no wonder 42% of Britons worry about healthcare.

So we think it’s all the more important to stay informed and up to date! We’ve compiled a list of common health problems and the jobs that may put you at risk.

Office Workers Risk Migraines

An office environment can contain a lot of potential triggers for a migraine sufferer. Light is a common trigger, so glaring computer screens and fluorescent lighting can be a potent combination. An office can also be a noisy environment – constant typing, printers whirring and shrill phone calls. This can exacerbate the symptoms of a headache or migraine, and even cause them. On top of all this, working in an office can be stressful, and stress is known to cause migraines. So, what can be done to help?

Migraine sufferers should keep track of their triggers in order to navigate their office space in the best way possible. Use anti-glare screens, take regular fresh air breaks and keep the stress under control with a stress ball or breathing exercises.

An office worker coping with a headache. Bright lights and constant noise are both common migraine triggers in an office environment.

Night Shift Workers Risk Hair Loss

We’ve all had a bad hair day at work, but is it true that a stressful job can make you lose your hair? Actually, yes. Hair loss caused by stress is a real condition and the medical name for it is Telogen Effluvium. The most stressful jobs for UK workers are in public service, with social work and nursing topping the list. 

Night shift workers might be risking hair loss the most. Not only does night work often put a lot of stress on the mind and body, it can also mean you don’t get enough sunlight. Sunlight is an essential source of Vitamin D, and a lack of Vitamin D is linked to hair health. It’s important for night shift workers to get some time in the sun each day, and supplement their diet with Vitamin D rich foods such as oily fish and eggs.

Food Workers Risk Eczema

Eczema can come in a variety of forms, but the one most likely to be caused by work is contact dermatitis. In the UK alone, 84,000 employees have dermatitis made worse or caused by their work. Those who work in the food service industry are at a particular risk, representing 10% of those dermatitis sufferers. 

Contact dermatitis can cause dry, red and itchy skin, made worse with contact to substances such as water, soap, detergents, cold weather, oil, acids, alkalis and plants. This means that those in the food industry are more likely to be affected, as well as hairdressers, cleaners, construction workers and mechanics. Ways to prevent contact dermatitis include cleaning the skin carefully, wearing cotton gloves under rubber gloves, and changing the products you use.

Bakers Risk Asthma

Bakeries and flour mills use a lot of flour which is a common cause of occupational asthma. This can also be applied to certain kitchens and the food service industry. Previous studies have put this down to a combination of breathing in excessive amounts of flour, which is both an irritant and an allergen. 

Other jobs that can cause occupational asthma include hospital workers, pet shop employees and car mechanics. This is due to increased rates of allergens and irritants. The good news is unlike pre-existing asthma, by taking proper precautions like good ventilation, breathing masks and avoiding exposure to the triggers occupational asthma can be avoided and go away on its own.

Baker working in a kitchen. Workplaces with lots of fine particles or dust in the air can cause asthma.

Carers Risk Depression

Carers for the elderly could have one of the highest rates of depression of any occupation, with 26% suffering from depressive symptoms. This could be due to low wages and family stress, as well as the physical and mental demands of the job that are often met without much thanks. Work related depression isn’t confined just to carers. Rates of mental illness and depression are rising amongst every profession, with a 1.5% increase since 2013.

Wholesale Workers Risk Heart Disease

Nearly 3% of wholesale workers have suffered heart disease or a stroke, making wholesale trade the highest risk industry for heart disease. Common risk factors for heart disease include poor health, smoking, high blood pressure and stress. It is not entirely clear why this occupation has an increased risk of heart disease compared to others, but some suggest it is down to increased occupational stress caused by irregular hours and a lack of job security.