You go to work to bring home a paycheck—not the flu, carpal tunnel syndrome or some other health problem.
So how do you stay safe and healthy on the job? Here are five key safeguards.
1. Protect yourself from disease-causing germs. Get a flu vaccine every year—as soon as you're able. It's the best way to avoid getting a nasty case of the flu from a co-worker and missing work—or worse, getting sick enough to be hospitalized.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water. And avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Do your co-workers a favor and stay at home if you're sick with a flu-like illness.
2. Avoid a sore back by lifting properly.
Picking up something heavy? Get close to the object, bend at both knees and lift with your leg muscles. Don't bend at your waist.
3. Sit smart at your desk. Keep your back in a normal, slightly arched position, with your head and shoulders erect. Make sure your chair supports your lower back. Try to stand and stretch every couple of hours.
4. Prevent computer-related eyestrain. If you spend a lot of time in front of the computer or focusing on any one thing close up, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, focus on a point about 20 feet away for about 20 seconds.
5. Guard against carpal tunnel syndrome. You're at risk for this painful disorder of the wrists and hands if you do the same hand movements over and over throughout the day. To help prevent it, take regular breaks from repeated hand movements. And if possible, switch hands during work tasks.
If you use a keyboard, adjust the height of your chair so that your forearms are level with the keyboard and you don't have to flex your wrists to type.
Sources: American Academy of Family Physicians; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; American Optometric Association; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention