Do Employers Have a Legal Duty To Address the Health Effects of Sitting at Work?

Canadians spend an average of almost 10 hours each day, excluding sleep time, being sedentary.

That counts as risky behaviour given studies that have linked sitting more than 4 hours a day to a number of long-term health risks, such as heart disease, diabetes, and back pain.

But, when that inactivity is largely the result of months and eventually years spent at a desk job or in meetings, could an employer face liability for any serious medical issues that ensue?

A recent study from Philadelphia’s Drexel University concluded that—at least for US workplaces—the answer might be yes.

Researchers examined the structure of liability in the United States for workplace injuries and specifically focused on the issues of sitting in the workplace and the accompanying medical problems. Their conclusion was that employers should be accountable for the issue because it would give them an incentive to reduce such harms and change workplace design in order to avoid liability.

Although the paper did note that establishing the workplace as a cause of the harm could be a minefield, it suggested there have been cases that show the “courts may be willing to find that claimants have satisfied the requirements.”

Read the full story here.



Don't miss our latest HSE content, delivered to your inbox twice monthly. Sign up for the HSE Now newsletter.  If you are not logged in, you will receive a confirmation email that you will need to click on to confirm you want to receive the newsletter.





HSE Now is a source for news and technical information affecting the health, safety, security, environment, and social responsibility discipline of the upstream oil and gas industry.