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A newly proposed law in Albany looks to aid workers who have jobs that require them to stand on their feet for their entire shifts. 

The new Standing Is Tiring Act (SIT Act), which is primarily sponsored by Bronx Assemblymember Karines Reyes, looks to ensure that workers with jobs that require standing have the ability to take a seat during parts of their work hours. The act “requires employers to provide suitable seats to all employees where the nature of such employees’ work reasonably permits seated work.”

Standing all day has been demonstrated to be physically taxing and the SIT Act would require employers to allow employees to sit at work as long as doing so does not interfere with the nature of their work. According to the proposed law, New York State’s Department of Labor will decide which jobs would also allow for periods of sitting and which would require employees to constantly stay on their feet. 

The language in the proposed law states, “This legislation presents a reasonable step in this direction: requiring employers to provide employees who can sit with the ability to do so and preventing employers from constructing workplaces to force prolonged standing unnecessarily.  This simple change to New York’s labor laws will provide relief and increase productivity for many of our hardest-working neighbors.”

Reyes, who chairs the state’s Subcommittee on Workplace Safety, in the past worked as a registered nurse. She says she knows exactly what it’s like to have to be on your feet all day; the extensive health problems that come with such jobs have been well documented. “Prolonged standing at work has been shown to be associated with a number of potentially serious health outcomes,” a 2015 report published in the journal Rehabilitation nursing: the official journal of the Association of Rehabilitation Nurses reports: “such as lower back and leg pain, cardiovascular problems, fatigue, discomfort, and pregnancy-related health outcomes.

“[T]he Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) (2014),” the journal article adds, “has reported that working in a standing posture on a regular basis can cause sore feet, swelling of the legs, varicose veins, general muscular fatigue, and low back pain, stiffness in the neck and shoulders, and other health problems. According to the CCOHS report, prolonged standing effectively reduces the blood supply to the muscles resulting in the acceleration of the onset of fatigue and causes pain in the muscles of the legs, back and neck, as well as pooling of blood in the legs and feet which leads to varicose veins. The CCOHS suggests that job design can reduce the ill effects of working in a standing position by changing working positions frequently, avoiding extreme bending, stretching, and twisting, pace work appropriately, and allow workers suitable rest periods.”

New York State’s proposed SIT Act has so far been referred to the Labor committee which will check to see if the bill would be feasible.

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