Workplace safety is not just a buzzword to protect employers from lawsuits. In 2020 alone, there were 2.7 million nonfatal workplace illnesses and injuries reported to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Anyone can become injured at work, whether from a slip and fall, or exposure to chemicals, or even to disease, or simply while picking something up the wrong way. The key is to understanding your surroundings and getting a handle on the most hazardous elements of your job.
Your employer should train you on any hazards specific to your job. Even if you’re a veteran in your industry, each new location can have specifics that apply to only them. Not only that, but even something as simple as making your way through a new layout at a new building can cause enough confusion to bring about injury. Here are some guidelines to avoiding injury at your workplace.
Manual labor can cause all kinds of stress, whether through repetitive motion or sudden, unexpected twists or other movements.
Taking breaks for your eyes, back, neck and even your mind are key. The monotony of staring at a computer can cause more injury and pain than you might think. Be sure your chair and desk are at the ideal level for your posture, and the same goes for your computer monitor. Take walking breaks frequently, so that you can stretch to avoid muscle or other injury from being sedentary. Even looking away from your monitor is healthy.
It could be as simple as taking your mandated breaks every few hours. It could even be access to your supervisors, or the opportunity to socialize at lunch. Most jobs are repetitive, many take a toll physically (which also can affect the mind), so finding some time to yourself can be helpful. Being mindful and relaxed will also help you perform your job better, and help you avoid physical injury.
Whether you could find yourself exposed to pathogens (disease) or chemicals, the key is to always wear your safety equipment, and of course exercise caution. If you’ll be handling chemicals, even if you work in an office, you should familiarize yourself with the MSDS, or Material Safety Data Sheet, for those chemicals, to know not only how harmful they are, but how to treat yourself or your co-workers if you’re exposed.
Understanding your surroundings is key to safety at the job. Knowing your right to be protected at work is also important. Make sure you are provided with the proper training and equipment to conduct your job safely.