This guest post is from Evan Fischer.
It’s all fun and games until you’re dancing on the conference table on margarita Friday and you fall off and break a hip. Okay, so most end-of-the-week “team building” exercises don’t go quite this far, but when it comes to workplace injuries, they’re probably best avoided. Not only do most people want to keep their bodies intact, but do you really want to explain to your boss (and the workers compensation commission) just exactly what you were doing dancing on a table, three sheets to the wind? Or more likely, why you were pulling a fifty pound box of paper off a high shelf while using a wheeled office chair as a stepstool? Even lifting something, if done improperly, could result in a back injury that not only hurts like the dickens, but makes you feel like a fool, as well (everyone knows you should lift with your legs, not with your back). The point is, you don’t want to deal with it in the first place. So here are a few tips to help you prevent these injuries from occurring.
First, you should probably make an honest assessment of your physical abilities. Many accidents and injuries in the workplace occur during simple tasks like lifting because people either aren’t paying attention to what they’re doing or they mistakenly overestimate their abilities. One of the most common causes of workplace injury is falling. This could result from climbing something in order to get at items that are high up or it could occur because you walked right past the wet floor sign without so much as a glance. So you need to assess each situation for danger, pay attention to your surroundings, and ask for help if you need it. You may be embarrassed to ask the young guy in the cubicle next to you to pull down a box from a high shelf, but you’ll be a lot redder in the face if you have to go to the hospital because you fell off the ladder and the box landed on you.
Of course, many people also experience repetitive motion injuries. These are extremely common in office workers, in particular, because small motions like typing and using a mouse are often performed all day, every day. In addition, many people who sit at a desk all day don’t realize that holding poor posture for extended periods can lead to aches, pains, and even serious injuries over time. Before this happens, talk to your office manager about securing ergonomic devices meant to protect your body. There are chairs and keyboards that will help to correct your posture and positioning in order to avoid injury (and they’ll cost a lot less than physical therapy). As for staving off pain from repetitive motion, consider using stiff, padded wrist guards that will limit your range of motion.
And always practice safety first. There are likely guidelines and policies in place to protect workers in every profession, especially those that are prone to hazard. So make sure that you always follow safety regulations. When in doubt, take the time to check and double check that you’re doing everything you can to avoid accident and injury – and don’t be too proud to ask for help since you’re the only one who will suffer from the decision not to (unless you happen to fall on a co-worker).