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Work Injuries: Your Health is in Your Hands

April 22, 2015

Many people are taught to power through pain and discomfort to do what it takes to get a job done. There is a difference, though, between work ethic and ruining a career. Both accrued and traumatic injuries can lead to not only losing the job you’re pushing yourself to excel at, but also losing the ability to physically function normally. Is a project really successful if it causes someone his livelihood? Be safe, be smart, and take responsibility for yourself.; time lost at work, inflated insurance, and possibly changes in job or daily tasks. The employer has to accommodate for lost production, a change in man hours, and worker’s compensation. Work-related injuries are so common that safety training and ergonomics are familiar to just about everyone. The risk of injury, however, is not only reliant upon working conditions. The body is built to work in certain ways, and accommodating the body’s needs can proactively protect employees from injury. Taking care of the body is the responsibility of each employee. While some of the points outlined here are common sense, they are grossly neglected. Here are a few simple yet important points to remember to keep the body able to perform physical work tasks at its best.

Take breaks.

The body is designed to recover from stress and activity, but only with enough rest. Even if the body can make it many hours longer than most people without shutting down doesn’t mean it’s supposed to. Constantly working or pushing the body without allowing it to rest can cause major dysfunction later. By the time problems show up, they may already be quite severe, leading to higher treatment costs, chronic pain, and possibly inability to perform work tasks. The less of a chance muscles and tissues have to regenerate, the more serious a problem can occur. Additionally, the body needs fluid, calorie, and electrolyte replenishment to function properly. This is especially important in hot environments with risk of overheating. Overall, if the body is not allowed to rest, fatigue will set in, causing unexpected weakness and unclear thinking – two very dangerous conditions when working with tools or heavy objects and equipment.

Get enough sleep and nutrients.

Everyone has unique requirements for how much sleep is needed to maximally function. However, most people confuse being able to get through a day on a few hours of sleep with only needing those few hours of sleep. Sleep is like a reset button for the body. Muscles, tissues, organs, and the brain recover from the day during sleep. Not having enough or not having restful sleep will make the body more vulnerable to trauma and injury and cause thinking to be less sharp. Additionally, the body can’t go about forming cells, repairing tissue, and gaining strength without the proper nutrients. Remember: even if a current unhealthy lifestyle doesn’t seem to be doing any harm now, years of it will negatively affect the body’s ability to function. When this happens, common results include having to quit or change jobs (loss of income); undergoing expensive rehabilitation or medical costs; and living in constant pain or disability – causing grim quality of life issues.

Perform basic muscle care before starting a shift.

Just like athletes, those who do physical labor or material handling for work are pushing their muscles to their limits. In order for muscles to work their absolute best, they should be warmed up before forced to stretch or pull. Muscles can be compared to Tootsie Rolls in this way. Freeze a Tootsie Roll and it will break if you try to bend it. A warm Tootsie Roll will flex and stretch easily. Completing light activity before starting work will better prepare muscles for activity and help reduce the risk of injury.

Be mindful of your work pace and order of activity.

Working in a hurry can lead to a number of problems from errors to body tension. Consequences of making a mistake can be grave. Overlooking a detail may mean an entire day’s work has to be scrapped to start over again. Misplacing or misusing an object can lead to physical harm. Working while stressed also tenses the muscles in the body, making them less effective in their functions and therefore more vulnerable to injury. In addition to watching pace of work, setting up the work load to start the day with heavier tasks and end with lighter follows the body’s natural progression of fatigue through the day.

Be mindful of your body.

Pain is the body’s way of saying “stop.” Stopping doesn’t mean stop producing. It can mean repositioning the body, using different tools, switching activities, or simply taking a break. Working through pain can be incredibly damaging.

Many people are taught to power through pain and discomfort to do what it takes to get a job done. There is a difference, though, between work ethic and ruining a career. Both accrued and traumatic injuries can lead to not only losing the job you’re pushing yourself to excel at, but also losing the ability to physically function normally. Is a project really successful if it causes someone his livelihood? Be safe, be smart, and take responsibility for yourself.

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