Safety at work: Preventing falls and avoiding repetitive stress injuries

Falls are among the most common causes of serious work related injuries and deaths, reports the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Falls can happen in any workplace, from an office setting to an outdoor construction site.

One way to protect yourself from falls by being aware of your surroundings. If you see of water, food, grease, oil, sawdust or liquid soap on the floor, notify your janitorial staff. Even small quantities of these substances can make you slip and fall.

Other tips:

  • Is raining or muddy outside? Be sure to wipe your shoes before you enter your building.
  • Walk safely. Put your cell phone away and focus on where you’re going. If you aren’t mindful, you may not notice unsafe conditions.
  • Try to avoid sharp changes in your direction.
  • Watch for potential tripping hazards, such as trash, extension cords, tools and carts left in the aisles and walkways.
  • Don’t take short cuts through construction areas. Stick to well-marked aisles and walkways.
  • Use handrails on stairs and ramps. They are there to protect you from falls.

The worst falls, which often result in serious injuries or death, are from heights like ladders and scaffolding. Be sure to follow ladder and scaffolding safety precautions.

Want more tips? Read Take 5 for Safety: Slips and Falls Prevention. For more resources, visit the workplace safety webpage from the Texas Department of Insurance.

Avoiding musculoskeletal disorders, including repetitive stress disorders

If you are someone who needs to sit, stand or type for long periods of time to do your job, you increase your risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders, including repetitive stress injuries (RSIs).

Office workers who use computers may be aware of disorders like carpal tunnel syndrome. In fact, there are more than 100 types of RSIs, some related to using vibrating equipment, others to heavy lifting or picking up awkward-shaped items that weigh more on one side than another. To guard against RSIs, you can:

  • Adjust your keyboard so it is about 4-to-6 six inches from the front edge of your desk.
  • As you’re typing, make sure your wrists are straight. Use a wrist rest, if need be.
  • You should not have to reach far to use your mouse. This could cause strain in the arm, cause the shoulder to twist, and put extra strain on the upper back. Keep the mouse close to your keyboard.
  • Your computer screen should be roughly the same height as your eyes. Too high or too low? You may tilt your head backward or downward, which can stress the neck.
  • Take small breaks often. Move around and stretch your muscles.
  • Use the right tools. If one of your jobs is to sweep and clean the floor, for example, use brooms and mops with handles that are long enough. You will hunch over and lean if your handle is too short.
  • Get a rubber mat to stand on if you have to stand for long periods of time. Change your position often.
  • Use proper lifting techniques–squat to pick up an item, keep the load close to your body, and avoid jerky movements.
  • Know your limits. You may be strong, but don’t try to muscle items that are just too heavy.
  • If you have to work in cold weather, warm up and wake up your muscles before you begin work to reduce muscle strain.
  • Change tasks as often as possible.

For more information on repetitive stress injuries and how to avoid them, consult this handbook, created by the National Education Association for education support professionals.

Source: ERS Employee News About Your Benefits (May 2018)

Categories: Learning, News, Wellness, Work/Life

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