The word “safety” means different things to different people—perhaps to you it means paying attention to the road while driving or making sure your children stay within your line of vision when they’re playing outside. What might not be the first to come to mind, however, is workplace safety, and the important role it plays in your overall health.
Even if your career doesn’t involve scaling buildings or putting yourself in the line of fire, it’s possible that there are hidden dangers in your job site that could make it less secure than you’d like it to be. What’s a safety-savvy worker to do? Well, we’ve got some often-overlooked hazards to make you more aware of your surroundings, as well as some tips to help you combat their potential effects. Work smarter and safer, not harder!
The sniffles, the slips, and the sedentary lifestyle
Even if your day-to-day routine seems innocuous enough, there may still be some lingering safety issues that you should pay attention to. If you’re working in a traditional office setting, it’s easy to think that your greatest health foe will be stress (or, more specifically, burnout), but that’s really the tip of the iceberg.
When spending time in close contact with others, you open yourself up to a communicable disease, which might be as serious as the flu or as minor as a head cold. What’s worse, some people carry contagious viruses with no symptoms, so they may not even know they’re ill. Spreading germs like that can easily take out your entire department, so make sure you’re abiding by basic principles of hygiene at all times. Scrub your hands with soap well and often, and ensure that your face is covered when you need to sneeze or cough. If you do wind up with some pesky illness, make use of those sick days to stay home and rest.
If you don’t consider yourself a terribly clumsy person, you may not give much thought to the seriousness of a fall at work, but the statistics are much more grim. Not only are a whopping 15% of unintentional deaths the fault of tripping and falling each year, research suggests that nearly 20% of reported workplace injuries result from taking a spill. The good news is that you can avoid falling victim to gravity (literally) by ensuring that your workspace is clear and clean. Also, pay close attention to your path when you walk and make note of any lipped-up rugs or lopsided floors that could take you down.
Stationary work, which is frequently found in select positions across all industries, is yet another safety hazard. Spending a lengthy number of hours in your seat can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer, not to mention the risk of repetitive motion. Activities like typing, dialing a phone, or packaging an item may be necessary to get the job done right, but they can also be linked to arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. These injuries can put you out of the game long-term, so you’re going to want a plan to stop them before they start. Opt for a standing desk while you’re working, take regular breaks from typing where you get up and move about, and aim for an hour’s worth of exercise each day during your downtime.
The sleepiness, the sleet, and the scentless assassin
Although less common than their predecessors, some causes of workplace injury happen before the employee even makes it in the door—it’s all in getting there. Some overtired folks may try to make it to their 9-5 on next to no sleep and find themselves drifting off on the way, or they may brave inclement weather in some regions only to find road conditions that are far too dangerous. Transportation accidents can be avoided by getting plenty of sleep and allowing extra time for the daily commute in cases of snow and ice. If possible, try exploring the option of working remotely from home if you’re truly snowed in.
Paying attention to the air quality in your workplace is another great way to avoid illness and injury, although it may require a little cooperation from upper management. Not only is carbon monoxide poisonous and odorless, but mold and other allergens in air ducts can lead to respiratory problems like asthma. Even if you can’t smell a problem, that doesn’t mean it isn’t there, so talk to your boss about what air quality assurances are in place. Beyond that, ensuring your office has carbon monoxide detectors will help you breathe a little easier at work.
The resources at your disposal
If you’re concerned about protecting your health and safety while on the job, you will likely want to acquaint yourself with OSHA, or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. This government agency specializes in laws that protect working people and offers a wealth of literature and instructional videos that allow you to understand both your rights and how to prevent injuries great and small.
Additionally, you may want to consider disability insurance if you haven’t already, or if you find that your employer doesn’t offer it to you as a benefit. This could ease your financial load if an incident does happen that renders you unable to work, allowing you to continue to care for your family and manage your life post-injury. If figuring out the logistics of insurance plans seems overly complicated, don’t stress over it—you don’t have to go it alone! Never be afraid to seek the advice of a financial advisor that can explain the perks, and help mold your coverage to your specific situation. Do your best to protect yourself, but don’t hesitate to have a fall back in the event that the worst does happen.
Ready to take action with your finances? Book a free consultation with a Dayton & Sydney Advisor today!
PPG-140453f (10/18) (exp. 10/20 )