“Work Smart, Not Hard!”
Staying safe on the job is important to your quality of life. It is so easy to get caught up in work and forget to take care of ourselves. I wrote this as a little check list to help you out on your day at work.
First lists look at activities that are known to put us at risk for injuries to occur.
Risk Factors for Injury:
• Awkward positions: being on a computer, standing too long, sitting too long, reaching behind while twisting, overhead work, poor lifting technique, constricted work space, phone use-speaking and texting, postures held for long periods, having items putting weight on pressure points (tool bags,backpacks, purses),driving static postures, maintaining fixed positions
• Repetitive motions: typing, texting with the thumb,using the mouse, writing, lifting, climbing, painting, typing, tool operation, opening packages
• Excessive force: Lifting, pushing, pulling, moving heavy objects
• Vibration: power tools, operating heavy equipment, driving, bicycle riding
• Stress: (causes muscular tension, tight muscles = injury) physical or emotional, general unhealthy lifestyle habits, poor nutrition, poor sleep, general fatigue, rushing / shortcuts, not getting along with coworkers, problems at home
Advice for smart working:
• Know what you are lifting, how you will lift it and the weight of the object.
• Make sure your pathway is clear and tripping hazards and debris have been removed. • Don’t take shortcuts. Clear work space to improve access to tools and materials being handled.
• Know when you need help and ask for it!
• Don’t obstruct your vision when carrying.
• Don’t use a partial grip when carrying (example 1 to 2 fingers.)
• Don’t bend or twist at waist when lifting.
• When possible alternate tasks, to reduce repetitive injury.
• Alternate heavy lifting with light tasks.
• Adjust your workspace to ft your personal needs. Be sure you have your computer set up properly and that your desk fits your size, invest in a good office chair, wear good shoes. If you have a standing desk alternate it with your sitting desk.
• Don’t pinch your toes when lifting
• Plan workflow to optimize safety and production.
• Minimize distance that loads are lifted, lowered and transported, for example; have your lumber dropped of near work site to minimize carrying by hand.
• Position loads to be able to lift in the power zone (above the knees, below the shoulder and at the midline)
• Wear work gloves that ft.
• Choose tools that have padded grips and handles that extend across the whole pad of your hand and tools that promote neutral posture of your wrist.
• Use knee pads, when work requires long amount of time on your knees.
• Load tool belts evenly, use padded tool belts with suspenders, and use mobile tool bucket when possible.
• Pack containers so contents will not shift and the weight is balanced.
• When an object is too heavy for one person use a two person lift. When lifting with others it is optimal to pair people that are of similar heights, keep load level and lift at the same time.
• Recovery time. Take short breaks.
• Take breaks every hour to stretch when sitting or doing computer work for long periods of time
•Speak up when you see unsafe activity.
• Minimize the amount of time you are on a computer or phone
• Drink plenty of water through out the day
• Always use your PPE, blue glasses, proper headphones, Hard hats, eye protection, gloves, ear plugs, boots.
• When working on a computer, get up and take walks every couple hours. Movement is essential
Use Proper lifting techniques- Basic tips for lifting
• Squat to lift and lower
• Do not bend at the waist and twist the torso
• Keep your back straight while lowering
• Keep weight as close to you as possible
• When turning with an object, turn feet first and follow with torso
• Keep core engaged when lifting and putting down weight
• When possible, keep feet apart and staggered.
Instructions for Diagonal lifting -Use this basic lifting technique for small objects when you can straddle the load and use a wide stance (this technique is considered the safest)
• Get as close to the object as possible
• Use a wide stance with one foot forward and to the side of the object for good balance • Keep your back straight and use your legs and hips to lower yourself down to the object
• Slide the object to you.
• Put the hand (same side as the forward foot) on the side of the object furthest from you.
• Tighten your core muscles in order to keep a straight and strong back, look forward and upward, lift slowly and follow your head and shoulders, hold the load close to your body, lift by extending your legs with your back straight, and breathe out as you lift.
Recognize warning signs that your co-workers / volunteers / employees / employers are at risk for injury.
Watch out for each other!
• Worker fatigue
• Unusual complaining about pain or work conditions etc.
• Exhibit pain behaviors. (not moving body parts, self-restricting movements, massaging body parts, excessive stretching, modifying tools, careless work habits)
• Modifying tools
• Rushing- Watch out for yourself, only you can feel what is happening in your body
• Know your own warning signs and ask for help, breaks, or a different task.
• Signs of injury: Pain, stiffness, numbness, tingling, limited range of motion, muscle weakness, spasms, and strains, atrophy at the base of thumb, changes in skin color, such as blanching of fingers (fingertips turning white),nearing a meltdown
When managing a team and delegating tasks
• Ensure that the individual is up to the task, physically, technically, and emotionally.
• Check in on crew morale, is everyone getting along, having fun, not getting bitchy.”
• When necessary, reassign workers to a crew that fits them better.
• Ask your team for feedback on assigned tasks, physical ability, and work site efficiency