Today’s guest post was written by Molly McGuane, a Communications Specialist.
No matter what your career or position is, It’s important to be cautious on the job. Whether you’re in an office, on a construction site, or putting out a fire, being aware of your surroundings and your health and safety should be a top priority. Occupational risks are a reality of everyday life, but on-the-job dangers are more common than we think, and being aware is the first step in staying safe.
Ergonomics is a word that gets thrown around often in an office setting. The importance of keeping your body healthy while at work and paying attention to your posture, your typing, and even how long you sit for are things to take into consideration. This isn’t just important for office workers though, as a repetitive use injury can happen in just about any field of work.
Repetitive use injuries are a result of overexertion and can evolve over weeks due to repetitive motion and putting a continuous strain on certain body parts. Common pains in the office can range from a bad back to neck issues, or potentially carpal tunnel if you type often or regularly use the phone. In workplaces like construction sites, these injuries can result from constant lifting, pushing, pulling, and carrying heavy objects. This is a demanding profession to get into because employees are often expected to work long hours in a variety of environments. As a result of working with materials such as timber, concrete, and steel, laborers are likely to put a strain on their body and overtime be at risk for this type of injury.
Companies are trying to aid in this area and are implementing courses for office employees in ergonomics to understand how to prevent these problems. For construction workers, there are physical ability tests which show how they are doing and if they are able to do the work and perform their duties safely for both themselves and their coworkers.
Luckily, there are some simple fixes. For an office employee, get a chair that supports your spine and can adjust to your specific requirements. If you are constantly using the phone, keep it as close to your body as possible to minimize reaching and stand up at least once an hour or utilize a standing desk to improve energy levels and productivity. For construction workers, wearing the proper safety equipment, taking breaks throughout the day, and staying up to date on training on how to properly work in that environment will help prevent future injuries as well.
Professionals in several areas of work can be exposed to radiation. People working in manufacturing, construction, medicine, and the nuclear industry have the potential for radiation exposure. There are several forms of radiation including non-ionizing, ionizing, and electromagnet. Frequent exposure to this can cause tissue damage and must be properly controlled.
Long-term impacts of radiation can be life altering and even deadly, so it’s important to know how to protect yourself from unhealthy levels. Humans can not sense ionizing radiation, so if you work in an area that may have a risk of exposure it’s important to use a radiation detector. Most importantly, put distance and shielding between you and the radiation. It’s the most immediate way to prevent a risk of exposure, and limit your time in areas that are high in radiation.
Asbestos was once noted as a miracle property due to its strength and flame resistance. Because of this, it was utilized in construction of homes and other buildings until the mid 1970’s. Although asbestos isn’t being used in new builds, construction workers, firefighters, and electricians, and even mechanics, can be exposed to this harmful toxin. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), roughly 125 million people are exposed to asbestos while at work. Occupational exposure to asbestos is also the leading cause of a rare cancer called Mesothelioma, with more than half of these cases attributed to on the job exposure through inhaling or ingesting the mineral. Unfortunately, many workers might not know they were exposed until years later as symptoms appear 10-50 years after exposure.
On construction sites, it’s most likely asbestos will be found when renovating old buildings or during demolition. Although this material is banned in some places such as the UK, it has yet to be banned in many countries, including the United States. Protecting workers from this dangerous mineral is important, and luckily there are ways to do so. To protect workers provide them with the information they need to know. Sharing the resources available and general knowledge of asbestos, where it can be found, and the risks of being exposed gives workers an upper hand. Safety equipment such as a dust or respirator mask is the next step in ensuring workers are protected. These small precautions can make a great impact.
One of the main five groups of occupational hazards that we seem to overlook is psychosocial. Jobs can put a great amount of stress on us physically and emotionally. If a job doesn’t have sufficient work-life balance it will impact happiness, health, and even family members. It’s important not to rule this health risk out. Workers must find a balance between work and life and make time to do things that make them happy. Work can’t be the center of our lives, and there must be things that matter to us outside of the office or construction zone. It gives our bodies and minds time to rest and re energize for the next work day.
Education is the first step in staying safe when on the job. Employers need to provide employees with information, equipment, and the proper resources to know how to protect themselves or how to prevent risk. It’s equally as important for employees to do research on their own before entering a role and to know what potential risk is involved in the job. Together companies and their staff will be more productive, happier, and safer when knowing the risks and what to do to combat them.