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Sunday, August 22, 1999 Published at 23:06 GMT 00:06 UK


'Health hazards' of hi-tech offices

Modern offices can cause health problems

The amount of work-related illness is likely to soar over the next 10 years, research has found.

The study, commissioned by Norwich Union Healthcare, found that far from improving the working environment, the march of new technology could lead to an epidemic of sickness-related industrial claims.

Nearly three-quarters of GPs surveyed predicted that the number of patients suffering from work-related illness will rise over the coming decade.

Personnel directors took an equally gloomy view. Nearly half admitted that technological advances in the workplace were creating new complaints, while 68% said companies needed to re-think their approach to occupational health.

Among the complaints which are set to become commonplace are repetitive strain injury (RSI), bad backs and eye strain.

Challenges for millennium

Sue Summers, Norwich Union Healthcare spokesperson, said: "Managers will face all sorts of challenges in the new millennium, not least the possibility of increased staff absence resulting from today's office environment.

"Our research shows that companies need to start thinking about re-evaluating the way in which they look after the health of their employees - in order to ensure their workplace is a safe and healthy environment."

The research was welcomed by the Heath and Safety Executive, which said positive action was needed to raise awareness of "modern occupational health challenges".

The survey was based on responses from 100 GPs and 100 personnel directors.

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