Prolonged Sitting at Work Could Be a Legal Issue for Some Companies

Prolonged Sitting at Work Could Be a Legal Issue for Some Companies

Posted by Will M on Aug 28th 2013

As it becomes more and more obvious that sitting all day in an office is a health issue, it stands to reason that it may soon become a legal issue as well, especially for countries which mandate a “duty of care” for their employees. One such country is Australia, which has already seen a paradigm shift toward less sitting in the office due to the lobbying efforts of the country’s National Heart Foundation.

According to a article entitled “Treadmill Desks Part of Office of the Future as Sitting Becomes Legal Issue,” Australian companies are “responsible for the health and safety of their employees” and, due to mounting evidence of the risk involved with being sedentary, that makes them legally “obliged to take positive steps to address that risk.”

This means more standing and walking, which of course means a rising prevalence of treadmill desks – one of the best ways to ensure more standing and walking at the office. But, as National Heart Foundation acting chief executive Wendy Keech points out in the article, this risk can also be lowered by things as simple as walking to a coworker instead of emailing or standing while on the phone.

Even though many workers may be exercising on their own time, this still doesn’t relieve companies of their obligation. As we’ve pointed out on this blog before, even regular exercise doesn’t negate the effects of prolonged sitting. For companies legally responsible for the health of their employees, getting employees out of their chair at regular intervals is a must. It’s comparable to the same health risks which led to a ban on smoking in the workplace in some Australian states.

What does this mean for Americans? Well, in an age where health care is becoming more and more tied to employment, it may not be a legal issue, but it certainly may become a Bottom Line issue. Companies may want to begin to take a proactive approach to getting their workers standing and walking at work. For those that provide employee healthcare, outfitting an office with standing desks or treadmill walk-stations may seem like an investment now, but one that could actually save money in the long run.

Learn more about standing and walking at work at

Interested in ergonomics?

Subscribe to our blog mailing list