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Online business is in fashion. It is a very convenient type of business, for various reasons. It suits thousands of different niches, and offers tremendous potential for any hardworking entrepreneur. As a result, it is growing endlessly in popularity, and millions of people all over the world make business online. Online buyers are also increasing dramatically with time.
And dear Reader you may be considering to create an online business, or you may already be an established online entrepreneur. Whichever case, the aim of this article is to help you with information that will empower you to safeguard your health and safety, as you continue to make online business. You may also just be doing research on online business health and safety e. g. as part of your studies. In this case too, please read on and enjoy …
WHY ARE HEALTH AND SAFETY IMPORTANT IN ONLINE BUSINESS?
There is not a single good thing in this world, that does not carry risks. The risks may be peculiar to that particular activity, they may be associated with many similar activities, or they may be risks of a general nature.
In online business, the trader uses machines to carry out business. These can cause health and safety issues, especially if not used with caution. The online entrepreneur deals with many people from all walks of life, and this in itself can present risks.
In this article, we will begin by discussing general health and safety concerns, “Ergonomics” as it pertains to online work, and then hone in on specific problems, organising them into body systems and / or functions.
GENERAL HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES
Online business, like any business, is vulnerable to an unstable economic climate, such as exists in this first quarter of the Twentieth Century. This economic uncertainty causes ANXIETY at various stages. Anxiety hits hard at people considering venturing into business – “will I make it, or am I setting myself up for failure and loss of money, time and self-esteem?” There is anxiety also after starting the business and watching it take off. But there is also anxiety that can come late in the timeline of a business e. g. if it flops, or experiences dips during hard times.
Every business person has to learn how to prepare themselves psychologically. There needs to be strong coping mechanisms in place, and a certain minimum amount of support systems and networks. Relaxation techniques should be learnt, and the work schedule structured to accommodate relaxation. Anxiety that is pathological has to be recognised early, and professional help sought.
Another related problem is DEPRESSION. This affects millions of business people around the world annually, and causes untold damage to economies. Poor performance of a business can cause depression, and depression can cause poor performance of a business. This therefore causes a vicious cycle.
Working with huge numbers of people in business is very challenging. One deals with customers, colleagues, employees, suppliers and other business associates. Unhealthy relations or even short-lived conflict with any of these parties can cause depression. Any online activity, especially if one allows themselves to be side tracked, carries the risk of being defrauded, being frustrated or rejected by trusted associates, being stalked and, especially in the case of ladies, falling victim to human trafficking.
The best definition of the word I could find is from https://www.merriam-webster.com:
“an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely.”
Ergonomics is also called biotechnology or human factors engineering.
And so, for online business, the “things people use” are computer-type equipment, like laptops, desktops, palmtops and smartphones. It is best that anyone who works with this type of equipment for long hours learns the Ergonomics of this Information Technology (I. T.). This unfortunately is grossly neglected, leading to a lot of morbidity.
The problems that can be caused by the use of I. T. will be dealt with under the different body systems below. Techniques and devices to aid the safe use of this technology will be provided.
Radiation, especially 4G and 5G radiation, poses risks to various systems of the body and is therefore being mentioned right here. People working with I. T. equipment need to be aware of it, and continually update their knowledge of the subject. Various products are available to protect users of I. T. devices from radiation.
(Paid link) Anti Radiation Laptop Computer Pad & EMF Blocker
THE NERVOUS SYSTEM AND THE MIND
This is probably the most important of the human body’s systems, when it comes to online business. It can be adversely affected in various ways.
Online business has the peculiar property of picking up after months. It is not a get-rich-quick enterprise. The anxiety discussed above has a strong potential to set in as a result. And if the hardships thus caused overwhelm the entrepreneur’s coping mechanisms, major depressive episode can occur. Suicidal ideation is not uncommon under these circumstances.
An online business offers an advantage to some people in that, it allows them to work at home and therefore spend more time with their loved ones. However, for some people it can cause isolation by taking them away from work colleagues who could be their only support system. A careful weighing of the possibilities is necessary.
I. T. equipment, because of the activity of the screens, is known to cause or worsen anxiety and panic disorders. Seizures do also get precipitated, in epileptic individuals.
A lot of people who work with I. T. equipment, especially young people, do not take enough care with the postures they adopt while using or carrying the equipment. This can harm both the nervous system and the musculoskeletal system (below).
Sitting for long periods, especially with crossed limbs or with the body pressed against surfaces like tables, can cause Nerve Entrapment Symptoms. In the upper limb, the commonest such problems are carpal tunnel syndrome and ulnar nerve palsy. In the lower limb, crossing the legs for hours on end, frequently causes peroneal nerve palsy. These symptoms are usually reversible. But the important point is to be aware of their possibility and avoid them.
The eyes are adversely affected by light coming from computer screens. This light is twofold: that emitted from the screen, and lights in the room that are reflected by the screen. These two types of light cause tired eyes and sometimes, headache.
Equipment is available for purchase, that filters out the harmful light, and makes working with I. T. safe and enjoyable. E.g.
It however needs to be pointed out: Ophthalmologists teach that it is a myth that reading in the dark, or while in a moving vehicle, damages eyes. So, on that one, you can take a chill!
THE MUSCULOSKELETAL SYSTEM
As mentioned above, bad body posturing and unbalanced weights when carrying I. T. equipment, can adversely affect the bones, joints, tendons and muscles. At greatest risk is the spine or vertebral column.
It is crucially important, as a measure of Ergonomics, to have good quality furniture equipment for use when working with I. T. equipment. This equipment should provide support to the whole of the spine, from the neck to the tail region. Leaning forwards / backwards or sideways for a long time is a definite no-no! Permanent spinal deformities can result from this.
Carrying rucksacks and similar bags on one shoulder only, while seemingly trendy, has been proven to cause severe pressure imbalances on the spine, and gradual, serious damage.
Spending too much time seated while working online, and not getting enough exercise, also causes deconditioning to the muscles. “If you don’t use it, you lose it!”
THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM
As with the MSS above, the heart and connected blood vessels will undergo deconditioning if not given enough exercise because one spends a lot of time working online, without making the time for even the minimum recommended exercise of 30 minutes a day, 4 days a week. The biggest beneficiary of blood circulation from the heart, is the brain. If the brain gets a poor supply of blood, and not enough dose of the “happy hormones” called endorphins, the result will be mental fatigue, depression, and long-term problems like dementia and strokes.
Sitting for periods exceeding 2 HOURS also causes blood to start forming clots, mostly in the lower legs. These clots can travel to the heart as tiny bits and progress to the lungs as clot showers, or one major clot can be dislodged and cause a sudden, severe catastrophe in the lungs.
In the next article of 04/06/2020, we will deal with more body systems, namely the Respiratory System, the ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat), the Digestive System or GIT, the Urinary System, the Endocrine System and Metabolism, and the Skin and Other Connective Tissues. Please click here for article of 04/06/2020.
Online business is one of the greatest results of modernisation. It is a convenient and lucrative business, providing a livelihood to a growing number of people globally, and serving billions of buyers.
But there are health and safety issues that have to be heeded and taken care of, so that online entrepreneurs continue to be safe, healthy and happy.