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Can Improving Your Health Help Prevent Workplace Injuries?



Workers compensation provides a financial safety net to aid people who have been hurt on the job, but the best bet is to prevent such incidents from occurring in the first place. While it is impossible to prevent all workplace accidents or injuries, there are things you can do to reduce the risk, such as maintaining a safe work area and following safety procedures. Another important measure some people may not consider when it comes to preventing workplace injuries is taking care of your health. 

Common Workplace Injuries

Workplace injuries run the full gamut in terms of types and severity, but some occur more frequently than others. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, among the 3,063,400 nonfatal workplace injuries reported in 2010:

  • 370,130 involved sprains, strains, and tears.
  • 185,271 involved injuries to the back.
  • 208,470 involved falls.

Further analysis revealed that:

  • Sprains, strains, and tears accounted for 40 percent of cases resulting in time away from work. Soreness and pain, including back pain, accounted for 11 percent of such cases.
  • Overexertion was to blame for 43 percent of sprains, strains, and tears, with falls being the second leading factor, causing 11 percent of these injuries.
  • Thirty-six percent of sprain, strain, and tear cases affected the back, making it the most frequently injured body part. Shoulders, knees, and ankles were all common injury sites, as well.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of these types of injuries—and many are the same steps you should take to help improve your overall health.

Reduce Your Risk for On-the-Job Injuries

The Mayo Clinic offers tips for preventing sprains and strains and also for reducing the risk for back injuries at work. There are some common themes, such as getting plenty of exercise to strengthen the muscles that support your limbs, joints, and spine. For optimal results, aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise—or 75 minutes each week of vigorous aerobic exercise such as running —plus two sessions of strength training each week.

Certain occupations make you more prone to injuries, especially back pain. These include nursing, construction, and factory work. If you notice that your job stresses certain muscles and muscle groups, exercises that condition those particular parts of the body may be helpful. If you can, modify repetitive movements, even if slightly, during your day, and pay attention to your posture, especially if you sit or stand in the same position for long stretches.

There are even health strategies that can help lower your risk for falls. The Mayo Clinic advises that you work with your doctor to monitor medications for side effects and discuss any previous falls, as well as symptoms that could contribute to falls such as dizziness. Vision problems can also be factors, so get routine eye exams. And stay active—exercise can help improve balance, coordination, and flexibility, which can help keep you from landing flat on your back.

Preventing workplace injuries helps reduce medical costs and missed days of work. But more importantly, injury prevention promotes good health and quality of life. So, it’s win-win for both employers and their employees. Of course, it is impossible to prevent every accident or injury. If something happens to you or one of your employees on the job, consulting with a workers comp attorney is always a wise move.