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Lunch breaks and health risks

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In a survey carried out for BBC Breakfast of almost 600 office workers, 54 per cent said they regularly work through their lunch hour, 53 per cent believed there is a widespread culture of colleagues doing the same, and 20 per cent said they felt under pressure not to take a break.

According to dietitian Alison Clark, you are more likely to eat mindlessly if you eat while you work because you are not focusing on what you are consuming, which could lead to weight gain. She also said going outside during a lunch break, especially during summer, allows the body to produce vitamin D through the reaction of sunlight on the skin.

The BBC report also highlighted the amount of bacteria on keyboards and work desks (including from faeces — do office workers not wash their hands?); another reason not to eat while working.

Lunch break is an issue that most community pharmacists have to contend with. The need for a proper mental break for patient safety and to reduce pharmacists’ stress levels have been discussed time and time again. But it looks like there are also other health implications of munching on a sandwich while you are trying to enter a pile of prescriptions into the computer.

What makes things worse is that pharmacists share their workspace with many colleagues in the pharmacy, making the workbench, keyboards and computer mice even dirtier. There’s also the handling of (dirty) money and, let’s be honest, goodness knows where some of the prescriptions handed over by patients have been!

In an ideal world all community pharmacists would be entitled to a proper lunch break during a full day’s shift, but sometimes this is just not possible (eg, if you are the sole pharmacist working on a Sunday or bank holiday). So if you do have to eat between busy periods in the dispensary, make sure you have plenty of alcohol gel or antibacterial wipes handy.

 

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