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New Hazards at the Office

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Do you spend a lot of time glued to your computer screen at the office? Is your daily exercise limited to an occasional bathroom break and a brief walk to refill your coffee? According to a new study from New Zealand, if your response was "yes" to these questions, then you may be at risk of forming deadly blood clots. In fact, the risk for office workers is higher than most long-distance air travelers.

It's called deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. It's also known as "economy class syndrome," because it was first linked with long distance flights. The absence of legroom in economy class, as well as the more crowded conditions, means passengers are forced to sit for lengthy periods. DVT is a condition, then, in which a blood clot forms in one of the veins of the leg or pelvis. The clot can break off and block a blood vessel in one of the lungs. Death is the result.

Professor Richard Beasley headed the study. He discovered that a large number of patients coming to the hospital with blood clots had been seated at work for hours and hours. In fact, some people had sat for periods longer than many long-distance flights. He found that it wasn't uncommon for people to sit for twelve to fourteen hours, nonstop except for a quick time out for the bathroom, coffee, and lunch.

1.4% of people who report blood clots have recently traveled on a plane. Compare this to 34% who have just spent the day at the office. The figures are alarming. They show the sedentary nature of the modern work environment.

The study covered sixty-two patients aged 65 and younger.

Preview some of the lesson material:

Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?

  1. On average, people are unhealthier than ever before.
  2. I would prefer to work indoors instead of outdoors.
  3. An office job is dangerous enough to threaten your life.
  4. Employers should protect the health and safety of their employees.
  5. If a person dies to help/save his family, he is a hero. If a person dies to help/save his company, he is a fool.

True or False: Guess (before the article) or answer (after the article) whether the sentence is true or false. If false, correct the sentence.

  1. Is it dangerous to spend a lot of time at your computer?
  2. Long-distance air travelers have a higher risk for deep vein thrombosis.
  3. DVT and economy class syndrome are different medical conditions.
  4. According to Beasley, some people entering the hospital had worked for twelve to fourteen hours.
  5. According to the article, people are sitting for longer periods of time at work.

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. What can you do to lower the risk of deep vein thrombosis at the workplace?
  2. Should employers be responsible for health and safety at the office? If yes, what should they do about DVT?
  3. If a coworker died of DVT after working for fourteen hours, is he/she responsible? Why/not?
  4. What other hazards can you think of in association with the office?
  5. What would be the perfect office environment? Is it likely you will ever work in such a place?

Google Search: Type "deep vein thrombosis" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.

Download the lesson:



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