Mallita Jacinto, a Santacruz resident, hates the misconception that a teacher’s job is easy. The 28-year-old goes home every day with a severe neck ache, courtesy the time she spends poring over books, and a headache from the stress of handling so many students.
“Six years of teaching and I already see my health deteriorating. It’s only going to get worse,” said the lecturer at Mittal College, Malad. From inhaling chalk dust to standing and talking for hours, she knows life is going to get tougher.
Jacinto’s case is not an isolated one. Occupational health hazards are an increasing concern in a city where people work long hours in high-pressure jobs. To deal with work-related health problems, doctors who work with the country’s top companies such as Siemens, Reliance, Hindustan Unilever and even government institutions such as Bhabha Atomic Research Centre came together for the Indian Association of Occupational Health’s annual conference on Sunday at Bandra. According to the doctors, each profession has its own set of health hazards and the root of most of them are high stress levels among employees.
“There are several things employees must keep in mind if they want to live a healthy, balanced life. Simple practices such as finishing work on time and not procrastinating will go a long way in reducing stress. At times, no matter how hard it may be, you should refuse work if you are overburdened,” said Dr S Sivaramakrishnan, lifestyle management consultant at Hinduja Hospital, and retired vice-president, medical and occupational health, Siemens Ltd.
Doctors said there is an increase in cases of repetitive stress syndrome — repeatedly doing tasks that stress your muscles — among the working class. “The number of complaints of muscle ache is on the rise. These days, people opt for laptops over desktops. You tend to lean more when using a laptop. This causes body aches,” said Dr Kishore Madhwani, vice-president of the association.
The problem, said doctors, is more pressing when it comes to small and medium-scale industries. “While big companies try their best to look after the health of their employees, small and medium-sized industries have limited resources. The government needs to step in and provide employees of these industries with subsidised healthcare,” said Dr Ashish Mishra, health director, Dow Chemicals, India and South Asia Pacific.