For most Texans the workplace is typically a safe spot. Yet each year private-industry employers report approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries or illnesses, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
While many of these occur due to the hazardous nature of some professions – logger, for instance – injuries can occur at office jobs, too. Carpel tunnel syndrome, for instance, affects as many as 1.9 million people and may be connected to poor workspace ergonomics, such as the improper placement of your desk, chair, and computer monitor or keyboard.
June is National Safety Month, an opportune time to consider ways to reduce your risk of workplace accidents and injuries. From sprains and pulled muscles to more serious injuries that may cause a hospital stay, physical pain can take many forms, and have a significant impact on productivity and your day-to-day life.
Here are some tips to consider to help protect yourself from potential workplace injuries:
Watch your surroundings and use safety gear: Be wary of wet floors, and loose cables and carpeting, which can cause unexpected falls. If you want to reach something high up, don’t use unstable surfaces or chairs as ladders. If recommended for your job, wear protective gear such as earplugs, safety googles, gloves or hard hats.
Lift items as safely as possible: When trying to pick up boxes or heavy items, squat to the floor and use your legs instead of your back to rise. It’s important to use the strength in your legs and keep your back straight – and keep your core engaged – the entire time. The same should be done when setting down heavy objects.
Position your workstation ergonomically: You may develop musculoskeletal issues from sitting at a desk that doesn’t match your body – a screen that is too low or high, a chair that doesn’t support your back or if your wrists are positioned at an awkward angle. Generally, when working at a computer, people’s hands, wrists and forearms are straight, in-line and parallel to the floor. Click here for more steps to help set up your workstation to minimize potential injuries.
Take short breaks and get a good night’s sleep: Don’t forget to take a few minutes during your day to stretch and walk around to prevent soreness, especially when doing repetitive tasks. It may also be a good idea to warm-up before you start the workday. Also, being well rested is important: This helps you be more productive, and keeps you more alert and capable of preventing injuries like falls. Getting enough sleep can also help reduce stress and anxiety.
Seek support if injured: If you are hurt at work, seek medical attention (if needed) and notify your supervisor and HR department. To qualify for workers’ compensation, employees must notify their company – in writing – as soon as possible, with specific notice requirements varying significantly by state. Also, employees should check if they have access to an accident protection plan, which can provide a cash payout following a workplace injury and, in some instances, offer support from a case manager to help with recovery.