Getting injured is pretty much always awful. When you get injured at work, it can also be complicated beyond belief. The following will explore some of the more common workplace injuries as well as outline steps you can take to avoid them.
Refuse Unsafe Work
Before diving in, it’s important to note that you have the right to safe work. If something feels unsafe, don’t do it. You can even say: this doesn’t feel safe. It can be hard amid the current hustle culture to refuse work, but when it comes to your safety, it is vital you stand up for yourself, even if it’s uncomfortable. It doesn’t matter if someone else did it and they felt fine. It doesn’t matter if you’re worried your boss doesn’t like you. It doesn’t matter if you really need this job (spoiler alert: if you get seriously injured at work, you might not be able to work the same number of hours and earn the same income). Respect yourself enough to refuse work that feels unsafe. You don’t want to be kicking yourself later because deep down, you knew something was wrong, and you ignored the feeling and did the work anyways.
Report All Injuries No Matter How Small
Another broader point before we get into the specifics. You should be reporting all injuries through the proper channels at your work, even if it feels really small and unimportant. Perhaps everyone has been nicking their finger on the same railing for months, and it’s only a matter of time before someone puts down their hand the wrong way and gets a nasty gash on their wrist, along with some serious blood loss. Just because something seems mild doesn’t mean it’s going to be mild next time. Pass the word along so changes can be made before someone gets seriously hurt.
Carpal tunnel is an unusual workplace injury to talk about because it is a repetitive strain injury, and this means it takes time to reveal itself. Of course, it is still an injury, and given the number of desk jobs that require consistent typing and mouse usage; it’s on the rise. You can reduce the risk of carpal tunnel by giving yourself regular breaks, using a softer touch when typing, stretching regularly, sitting in a way that allows for your wrists to sit in a neutral position, keeping yourself warm, and working on good posture. Immediately respond to wrist or hand pain that arises as a result of your work.
It’s worth noting that even if you’re working from home, carpal tunnel developments can still be deemed workplace injuries. Your workplace should provide you with the information required to set up a workspace that reduces your risk of repetitive strain injuries and other kinds of injuries.
One of the easiest ways to hurt yourself at work is by lifting things that are too heavy for you, lifting things improperly or lifting things repeatedly. Many lifting injuries that are work related have serious and/or long-term repercussions. Back injuries, in particular, are very finicky when it comes to healing. To avoid lifting-related harm, always be sure that you’re using the proper lifting form. You also need to avoid lifting anything that feels too heavy for your build and strength. A back injury can negatively impact all areas of your life: from chasing the kids around to running errands, from sex to your ability to sleep through the night. Lift with care and caution.
Not Wearing Personal-Protective Equipment
If you’re working in a position that requires you to wear personal protective equipment, you need to be wearing it. Injuries that are sustained while working without the proper gear (or with the proper gear improperly worn) are another kind of injury that can do serious long-term damage. There’s a reason you’re required to wear certain protective equipment. It’s because injuries are common or deadly without it.
Slips, Trips, Falls
Slipping, tripping, or falling can also result in a pretty serious injury, especially when heights are involved. To avoid this kind of accident, always watch where you’re going and avoid any kind of carrying or positioning that prevents you from looking where you’re going.
Workplaces have a responsibility to draw your attention to uneven ground or surfaces that may be slippery. Part of maintaining a safe workspace is following the company’s guidelines for putting out signage.
The above information should have revealed some of the more common sources of workplace injuries. Of course, there are going to be a ton of injuries not included on this list. Your particular industry will likely have its own specific list of common injuries.