DOLE orders regular standing breaks for desk employees

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 21) — The government is ordering employers to provide regular standing breaks for desk-bound workers who sit for long periods each day.

In addressing health issues related to sedentary lifestyles, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued Wednesday Department Order No. 184, which gives workers regular five-minute breaks every two hours from "sitting time."

The order applies to all employees who "have to spend long hours sitting at work." This includes computer, administrative, and clerical work, among other jobs. 

These efforts come as studies link stationary lifestyles and extended periods of sitting to increased health risks such as high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease.

Studies have shown the dangers of sitting for extended periods of time- even when countered with exercise. 

A 2017 study published by the Annals of Internal Medicine, an academic medical journal published by the American College of Physicians, has revealed the time one spends sitting has a direct relationship with the risk of early death.

Under the new policy, employers must encourage workers to reduce desk-bound work and interrupt sitting time with either standing or walking.

It also directs companies to create work environments that give employees the chance to move more.

This includes changing work systems and planning activities that will allow workers to do more physical activities after work.

DOLE orders providing sit-stand workstations or conducting standing meetings.

Companies must also monitor the health of workers and educate employees on the effects of prolonged sitting.

Under the order, employees and establishments shall inform the "department, through the regional office, which has jurisdiction over the workplace, of the adoption of the safety and health measures as required herein."

The regional offices are to inspect and monitor the proper and strict implementation of the order.

The order takes effect 15 days after its publication in a newspaper. Employers must notify the department of their compliance with the health measures.