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Is your office a minefield of safety hazards?

AdobeStock_98264736.jpgIf you are an office worker in Minnesota, your workplace might not be as safe as you think. As in all other work environments, hazards exist, many of them common to all industries. Although carpal tunnel syndrome, caused by the repetitive motions made while typing or using a mouse for hours on end, is a known work-related condition among office and tech workers, a variety of other office injuries can lead to workers' compensation benefits claims.

Picture yourself carrying a monitor to your desk and tripping over a loose carpet. You fall and fracture your arm. Hospital and doctors' fees are astronomical. With your arm in a cast, you are unable to do your job, and the lost income wreaks havoc with your finances. If you are aware of potential risks, you might avoid workplace injuries.

Psychological injuries

These might be the most difficult claims to prove as work-related because they are not as apparent as physical injuries. They are mostly stress related and could arise from the following situations:

  • Exposure to external and internal violence in your workplace.
  • Exposure to harassment or discrimination by supervisors or other staff members.
  • Excessive workloads and suffering a burnout.
  • Developing depression after suffering a physical workplace injury.

Musculoskeletal injuries

These injuries typically result from lifting, carrying and putting down of objects such as bulky files, boxes, paper stacks and even office furniture. Damage to muscles, tendons and ligaments in shoulders, back and knees can cause long-term health problems. However, the following lifting techniques could prevent strains and sprains:

  • Squat down rather than bend to lift an object.
  • Use your legs rather than your back to straighten.
  • Keep your back straight throughout the lifting process and do not twist.
  • Use your entire hand rather than only your fingers to grab objects.
  • Hold the object close to your body when you lift and carry it.
  • Use the same technique for setting the object down.

Falls

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says falls rank among the top causes of occupational injuries in all industries and professions. Prevent falls in your office by using the following precautions:

  • Clean up any liquid spills or leaks immediately.
  • Remove loose carpeting and power cords that are snaking across the floor.
  • Use stepladders rather than chairs or other furniture to reach high objects.
  • Remove random objects that could be trip hazards.

Caught in and colliding with objects

Be observant and careful when you move about the office because every piece of equipment, furniture or object can be a hazard. Talking on your cell phone or texting while walking could cause you to run into doors, desks and open drawers, which, in turn, could cause cuts and bruises. Overloaded shelving or filing units can tip over and fall onto you, and trying to clear jammed copiers with your fingers can be dangerous.

What to do if you suffer a workplace injury

If all your precautions fail to keep you safe, you might find comfort in knowing that the Minnesota workers' compensation insurance program offers benefits to cover medical expenses and lost income. Furthermore, help is available with the navigation of the complicated legal and administrative processes.

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