Office-based small business owners are putting health at risk

Too many hours spent slumped in front of a computer is causing musculoskeletal problems for small business owners

Small business owners are putting their health at risk by spending too long “slumped” in front of their computers, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has warned. 

An analysis of half a decade of statistics about the health of FSB members identified that just three conditions make up more than half of initial referrals to the federation’s medical care and advice service, FSB Care.

These conditions were:

  • orthopaedic issues relating to the musculoskeletal system (35%)
  • mental health issues (17%); and
  • cancer (6%)

Stress was often an underlying or accompanying factor when physical conditions presented, and so the number of people being supported for mental health issues was more acute than the data showed, the FSB also argued.

Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said: “Being ill and needing to take time off work is a huge fear for anyone running their own business.”

Christine Husbands, of nurse-led service RedArc, which provides FSB Care, added: “Too many hours spent slumped in front of a computer and a too-sedentary lifestyle caused by long working hours can lead to such problems.

Added to the fact that stress can increase our sensitivity to pain, it’s easy to see why orthopaedic issues are top of the reasons why FSB members look for support.”

Separately, research from insurer Royal London has argued that only a quarter (26%) of small- to medium-sized enterprises have “key person” insurance cover.

The study found more than half (51%) of senior decision makers in British SMEs who had heard of this type of insurance did not think it was important, rising to 57% of those with fewer than 50 employees.

This was despite 30% of all SMEs having experienced the loss of a key employee for three months or more because of a serious illness, said Royal London.

Larger SMEs, with 50 to 249 employees, were more likely to have experienced the loss of a key employee to serious illness or death, and nearly half (47%) had taken out a policy, it added.

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