Preventing Injury at Work

NAOSH Week & Preventing Injury

NAOSH Week

North American Occupational Safety and Health (NAOSH) Week happens May 1 – 7. The goal of NAOSH Week is to focus employers, employees, partners and the public on the importance of preventing injury and illness in the workplace, at home and in the community.

Injury Is Preventable

Preventable injury in the workplace results in needless pain, time off and partial loss of income. According to the 2015 Parachute document “The Cost of injury in Canada”, preventable injuries resulted in:

  • 231,596 Canadians hospitalized

  • Nearly 3.5 million emergency room visits

  • More than 60,000 Canadians either partially or permanently disabled

According to Stats Canada Injuries at work (2013), the most common types of injuries sustained at work were:

  • Sprains or strains (49.9%)

  • Cuts, punctures, or bites (19.2%)

  • Broken or fractured bones (8.7%)

What Can You Do?

  • Be aware of your surroundings and the risks associated with your work environment(s)

  • Try to keep your mind on what you are doing

  • Know your limits (both physical and mental) and don’t be afraid to voice concern when you feel they are being crossed

  • If possible, consistently go into work having slept and eaten an adequate amount

  • Have regular breaks to stretch, rest and hydrate

  • Strengthen your posture with the Straighten Up Alberta program

Read on for tips for dealing with specific situations in work environments.

Common Concerns

Sitting

Sitting for long periods of time is infamously terrible for the human body, with a 2015 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicating an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and various cancers, and may contribute to early death. Additionally, staying sedentary can make your shoulders, neck and back tense and sore.

Tips

Even if you are experiencing a tight deadline, take some time to breathe, stretch and even take a short walk if possible. This not only increases your physical well-being but actually increases your productivity too.

If possible, optimize your workspace. Some examples include:

  • Sitting/standing desk, paired with an anti-fatigue floor mat or balance board

  • Balance ball or balance ball chair

  • Phone headset (instead of cradling your phone between your ear and shoulder)

  • Ergonomic seat cushion or support for car seats

Compensate for sedentary behaviour by stretching and exercising at lunch, before and after work and/or in off-seasons.

Ensure you have the most effective posture adjustments for your office or driving setting.

Resources

Jobs that may involve prolonged sitting include:

  • Office work
  • Driving (taxis, buses, private cars, etc)
  • Research and lab work
  • Phone and call centre operators

Lifting

One of the biggest concerns in the workplace is lifting and loading. Lifting improperly can cause a whole host of issues including back injuries (muscle, disk and joint). Research shows that cumulative loading ‐ repeating the same load‐bearing activity over a period of time ‐ poses just as much of a risk. Injuries from lifting, loading, pulling or pushing can happen to anyone in any industry.

Tips

Follow these steps to lift properly:

  1. Stand close to the object you are going to lift.
  2. Place your feet shoulder‐width apart.
  3. Bend your knees and keep your back straight to squat to the level of the object.
  4. Test the weight of the load before lifting.
  5. Keep the load close to your body.
  6. Use the strength of your leg and arm muscles (not your back) to smoothly and slowly lift the load. Do not to jerk when lifting.
  7. Pivot to turn in the direction you want to move toward.
  8. Avoid twisting your body while turning and carrying the load.
  9. Bend your knees and slowly lower the load to its new location.
  10. Always ask for help if the load is too large, heavy or awkward.

If you use a messenger bag, adjust the shoulder and stabilizing straps for the most supportive fit. Switch shoulders often.

If possible, break large loads down into smaller loads.

Take regular breaks to stretch, rest and drink water.

Resources

Jobs that may involve heavy lifting include:

  • Warehouse work
  • Construction work
  • Parenting
  • Professional moving

Standing

Certain jobs require their employees to be on their feet for hours. This can be very hard on the body. Not only is it physically exhausting, but without proper support, it can cause soreness, muscle damage and excess pressure on joints. It may also cause varicose veins and aggravate coronary heart disease and arthritis.

Tips

Be sure that you have the best support for your feet with supportive shoes and, if necessary, orthotic insoles.

Pay attention to how you carry your body when you walk.

Don’t stay stationary; shift your weight while you stand and stretch at least every hour.

During breaks, make a point to sit and rest.

If you are standing in a specific spot for a long time, try to stand on an anti-fatigue mat or balance board.

Be kind to your feet at home. Submerge your feet in water, alternating between hot and cold. Elevate your feet above your legs to reduce swelling.

Resources

Jobs that may involve excessive standing and walking include:

  • Waiting tables
  • Retail
  • Photography
  • Health care work
  • Cashier and teller positions

Overuse of hands and wrists

The majority of people will use their hands and wrists while they are working, but there are some jobs that require persistent, repetitive movements.  Such movements can lead to repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) such as carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS). CTS can make your hands, wrists and arms experience numbness, tingling, hypersensitivity to touch, weakness and/or pain.

Tips

Pay attention to how much force you use, and how tight your grip is. You may be using more force than needed.

Keep your hands warm. You’re more likely to develop hand pain and stiffness if you work in a cold environment.

Stretch and massage your hands and wrists regularly.

Exercise your hands. You can use simple exercises or physical objects such as stress balls or Baoding balls.

If possible, use ergonomic hand tools or office tools (mouse and/or keyboard).

Resources

Jobs that may involve overuse of hands and wrists include:

  • Typist and stenographer positions
  • Hairdressing
  • Art or music
  • Mechanic positions

Still Have Questions?

Doctors of Chiropractic diagnose, treat and help prevent musculoskeletal (bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, joints and connective tissues) conditions and disorders and the effect they have on the nervous system. They are trained to assist people of all ages to help relieve pain and discomfort, and restore range of motion. Chiropractors also counsel patients regarding nutrition, lifestyle and exercise.

For more information and to find a chiropractor near you, visit www.albertachiro.com.

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