According to BusinessInsurance.com, overexertion injuries are the most common reason for someone to file a workers' compensation claim. You might think that if you work in a job that is not physically demanding, you are immune to this type of injury. Unfortunately, that's not true: You can overexert your body in nearly any setting, because if you do any lifting, carrying, pulling, pushing or even holding, you might be at risk. The good news is that in many cases, these types of injuries are avoidable. Read on to find out how you can avoid overexerting yourself at your workplace.
Watch Your Positioning
One great rule of thumb to keep in mind is to always keep your toes pointed in the same direction as your nose. While this is not always possible, keeping your body aligned properly can go a long way toward helping you to avoid overexertion of any of your muscles or joints. Whether you're filing paperwork or lifting heavy boxes, use good body mechanics. Lift with your leg muscles; don't try to bend at the waist to pick up anything, even if it's lightweight.
Don't Be a Hero
It should go without saying that you should not try to lift heavy objects by yourself. What qualifies as "heavy" depends on the person doing the lifting; if something feels too heavy for you to lift comfortably, then it probably is. In addition to weight, consider an object's dimensions; a light but awkwardly shaped box can do just as much damage as a more compact, heavier package. It's better to ask for help than to take a chance.
Take Good Physical Care of Yourself
Not getting the sleep that you need or relying too much on caffeinated drinks to give you energy can have a host of negative effects on your body. One of these is an increased chance of injury. You might feel shaky or weak, and your judgement might be impaired. Make sure that you are getting the sleep that you need before each shift.
Also, take care to eat and drink enough while you are at work. Low blood sugar, hunger and dehydration can also increase your risk of injuring yourself. Take breaks as necessary to have something to eat or to drink water. Choose foods that contain protein and carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar at an even keel. Hitting the vending machine and tiding yourself over with a candy bar or a can of soda can cause a drop in your blood sugar later, which can lead to drowsiness, shakiness and, potentially, an injury.
Take advantage of your state's laws regarding breaks in the workplace. If you are entitled to a paid or unpaid break, be sure to take it. Even if you're not scheduled for a break, change your body position and rest different muscles throughout the day.
For example, if you are sitting at a desk most of the time, get up to walk around occasionally. If you must work on your feet, shift your balance from leg to leg, and try to walk around a bit. This allows you to stretch different muscles, and it has the added benefit of helping you to avoid repetitive motion injuries, which are another frequent cause of workers' compensation claims.
Report Injuries Immediately
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the sooner a potential injury is detected and treated, the more likely it is that it will get better without the need for extensive medical treatment or missed work. If you feel a strain in your back, don't keep working to see if it will subside; stop what you are doing and report it to your supervisor. You might be directed to switch to a different task for a short time, or to see a physical therapist for an evaluation. Even if your boss tells you to get back to work, you will have a paper trail, should you need to contact a personal injury lawyer later.
By taking care of yourself and being vigilant to the possibility of a workplace injury, you can reduce your chances of having to make a workers' compensation claim. If you do get hurt, it's important to report it right away and to remain aware of your rights. This will get you on the road to recovery and, hopefully, back to work quickly.
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