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Making workplace health a priority


Workplace health is proving to be a priority in the fit-out of the new Gippsland Lakes Community Health (GLCH) development in Bairnsdale, with around 70 sit-to-stand desks included as part of the office furniture rollout, at their newly renovated building at 66 McCulloch Street in Bairnsdale.

“Sit-to-stand”, “stand-up” or “sit-stand” desks, as they’re typically called, deliver a multitude of benefits to users such as enhanced productivity and focus, improved concentration, greater energy, reduced back discomfort, and decreased sedentary behaviour.

In 2016/17, as part of GLCH’s commitment to review health and wellbeing strategies for staff, an org-wide study took place to assess the pros and cons of using sit-stand workstations in the workplace. The eight-week pilot trial was undertaken by 11 staff members who each tested the impact of a standing workstation. Of the 40 per cent of participants with a pre-existing medical condition (which ranged from a foot injury to lower back issues and more serious back injuries), 70 per cent agreed the sit-stand workstation had a positive impact on their medical condition. These impacts included less discomfort when alternating between sitting and standing, while having the option to sit or stand depending on comfort and daily pain levels, was found to be beneficial for pain management.

The fact is, the human body is designed to be in motion; but in today’s workplace, many of us sit more than nine hours a day – at our desks, in meetings and during our commute. And it doesn’t get any better at home, because in a 65-year life span the average person will have sat in front of a TV for more than nine years!

In a workplace environment, prolonged sitting can damage you physically, mentally and emotionally which, naturally, impacts on productivity. Studies beyond the GLCH walls have indicated that two thirds of employees feel disengaged, dispirited and fatigued at work, and sedentary behaviour is a leading cause. Considering all of this it’s no wonder that, on average, 67 per cent of desk workers dislike sitting, and 75 per cent of employees welcome the idea of introducing more movement and less sitting while at work.

Of his experience with a sit-to-stand desk James Owen, GLCH’s Men’s Behaviour Change Program Facilitator says, “I’ve had access to the stand-up desk for well over 12 months now. In the beginning, it took no time to become accustomed to and I’ve had nothing but positive outcomes since. For instance, typically my days are spent working at my desk, interacting with my colleagues, and moving in and out of the office for varies administrative tasks like photocopying, and so, for the most part, I’m standing up – but since using the desk, I no longer feel fatigued throughout the day.”

The rollout of these sit-stand desks is one small part of the multi-million dollar capital works project that will see GLCH expand their operating premises to include a two-storey extension linking 66 McCulloch Street to its existing premises at 281 Main Street.

“The project commenced at the end of last year and so far we are tracking well for completion later this year,” explains GLCH Chief Executive Officer, Sue Medson OAM of the expansion progress. “Shortly we’ll be relocating the existing reception area to enable us to start upgrading our existing premises at 281 Main Street, but we’ll ensure all changes are clearly sign-posted so the disruption to our visitors is as minimal as possible.”

The expansion will cater for the exponential growth in GLCH’s aged care, disability, family violence, allied and other health services, as well as providing additional meeting rooms and consulting spaces.

“Currently our staff in Bairnsdale move between premises, so this will enable all staff to be on one site, which will reduce waiting times as well as help us deliver the additional services needed by the community,” says Ms Medson.

For more information about the expansion or upgrade, contact GLCH.