Many aspects of workplace safety are monitored by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a federal agency. The highest rate of work-related injuries occurs among laborers, whose jobs usually involve extensive manual labor and lifting two areas not addressed by OSHA safety standards. Back injuries are the most common work injury.

To protect your back when lifting:

• Don’t try to lift beyond your strength. If you need it, get help.

• Get a firm footing, with your feet shoulder-width apart. Get a firm grip on the object.

• Keep your torso in a relatively upright position and crouch down, bending at the knees and hips. Avoid bending at the waist. To lift, stand up or push up with your leg muscles. Lift gradually, keeping your arms straight. Keep the object close to your body.


• Don’t twist. If you have to turn with an object, change the position of your feet.

• Put the object down gently, reversing the rules for lifting.

Another type of work-related injury is damage to the musculoskeletal system from repeated strain on the hand, arm, wrist, or other part of the body. Such repetitive-strain injuries are proliferating due to increased use of computers. One type, carpal tunnel syndrome, is characterized by pain and swelling in the tendons of the wrists and sometimes numbness and weakness.

To prevent carpal tunnel syndrome:

• Maintain good posture at the computer. Use a chair that provides back support and place the feet flat on the floor or on a footrest.

• Position the screen at eye level and the keyboard so the hands and wrists are straight.

• Take breaks periodically to stretch and flex your wrists and hands to lessen the cumulative effects of stress.

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