Workplace safety is unfortunately often overlooked. With the rush of paperwork, meetings, emails, and other tasks into which you might find yourself perpetually plunged, it can be easy to forget that hard work can lead to injuries as well as positive annual reviews.
All jobs come with potential health and safety risks. While hard physical jobs like those in construction and law enforcement get the most safety-related press, any career can lead to long-term harm to your body if you’re not careful.
And while health and safety laws exist to protect you – and your employer will need to follow these – there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself, too.
Here are my basic guidelines to help you make sure your work life is not just productive but also safe:
Monitor for repetitive strain injuries (RSI). These often occur when you repeat a few limited motions over and over, leading to undue pressure on joints, tendons, bones, and muscles. These can happen in pretty much every field – secretaries, cashiers, report writers and medical professionals all get them.
If your job involves lots of physical repetition, pay attention to any discomfort you feel. Don’t just write off soreness or weird clicks as everyday aches and pains. These could be signs of serious injury in the making. Pay attention to pain and see a medical professional if you think you’re at risk.
Keep a clear path for walking. Surprisingly, walking is a common source of injury. People walk so often that they often don’t consider the potential harm. Walking is easy and safe, right? Well, not exactly. Women, in particular, need to watch out because they’re more likely than men to suffer a fall. Bones can be brittle. One bad slip could lead to serious injury.
So clear all walking paths, storing things like handbags, wastepaper bins and other small objects safely away from any spot in which people walk.
Report any problems. All too often, people ignore potential injuries after a workplace incident, not wanting to rock the boat or bother their manager. But it’s important to report all accidents and work-related pain, no matter how seemingly small. Most bosses will appreciate your openness, and it will help them to keep your working environment safe.
Follow directions and signs. If your workplace is prone to accidents, there are probably signs up and leaflets handed out to make sure you do your job in the safest manner possible. So stick to these guidelines. Use all machines and devices properly, remember to lift heavy objects with your legs, and avoid walking around ‘wet floor’ signs. If you use machinery – even something as simple as a computer – you should read the user manuals, which usually have useful tips for avoiding injury while using products. Remember, all safety directions are posted for your benefit – no employer wants their workers hurt.
Simple tips maybe, but tripping over a stray handbag strap or twisting your back not lifting something properly can cause you some serious issues. So it’s worth giving your safety a little extra though next time you’re at work…
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