U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Stay Safe at Work

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

Staying safe at work is very important. If you don't work in a safe way, you can get hurt or become sick. The good news is that there are things you can do – both at work and at home – to lower your chances of getting hurt. 

Take these steps to prevent injuries at work:

  • Lift things safely.
  • Arrange your equipment to fit your body.
  • Take short breaks and stretch.
  • Wear protective equipment.
  • Ask about health resources at work.

Your overall health can also affect how you feel and perform at work. To be able to work safely, it's important for you to:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Stay active.
  • Watch your weight.
  • Take steps to manage stress.
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The Basics: Types of Injuries

Why do I need to take steps to prevent injuries at work?

All types of jobs – even desk jobs – can lead to injuries. Back injuries are the most common type of workplace injury.

You are at risk of getting hurt at work if you:

  • Lift or carry heavy objects. This can strain or injure your back, shoulders, or neck. 
  • Do the same activity over and over again, like typing or working on an assembly line. This can cause what's called a repetitive motion injury.
  • Don't wear the right protective equipment for the work you do, like earplugs or safety goggles. 

Taking steps to stay safe and healthy at work can help you get more done at work and feel better overall.

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Take Action!

Take Action: Protect Yourself

Follow these tips to stay safe on the job.

Lift things safely.

When you lift something heavy:

Wear protective equipment.

Wearing protective equipment can lower your chances of injury. Protective equipment includes things like:

  • Earplugs
  • Safety goggles
  • Work gloves
  • Hard hats

The type of protective equipment you need depends on the type of work you do. To learn more, check out this list of workplace safety topics.

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Take Action: Arrange Your Equipment

Prevent repetitive motion injuries.

Take the time to arrange your equipment to fit your body. Don’t try to adjust your body to work with equipment that’s not set up right for you. Talk with your boss or employer about how to make sure your equipment is set up correctly. 

Try these tips:

  • Sit or stand up straight while you work. If you sit, adjust the chair or desk to your height.
  • If you use tools or equipment, put them where you can easily reach them.
  • Take breaks often when you are doing repetitive tasks. 
  • "Warm up" and stretch before you start working. 

If you work at a computer:

Check out these links to learn more about:

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Take Action: Take Breaks

Take short breaks.

Even a 5-minute break can help increase your concentration and reduce stress. Take short breaks often and stretch or go for a walk.

Understand the resources you have at work.

Many employers offer free programs that can help you stay healthy. Find out what resources are available to you, even if you don’t need help right now.

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Take Action: Healthy Habits

Get enough sleep.

Getting a good night’s sleep every night is important for performing well at work. When you are well rested, you are more likely to make good decisions and avoid getting hurt. To sleep better:

  • Don’t eat a big meal close to bedtime.
  • Stay away from drinks with caffeine (like coffee, soda, and energy drinks) several hours before you go to sleep.
  • Get regular physical activity, but don’t exercise right before you go to bed.
  • Make sure your bedroom is dark and quiet.

Stay healthy.

A healthy body helps protect you from injuries on the job. To stay in shape:

  • Eat healthy – Your body needs the right vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to stay healthy.
  • Get active – To get the health benefits of physical activity, do a combination of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
  • Watch your weight – To stay at a healthy weight, balance the calories you eat with the calories you use.

Take steps to manage stress.

Chronic (ongoing) stress at work or at home can increase your risk of getting sick or hurt.

You can reduce stress by planning ahead, noticing when you feel stressed, and taking time to relax. Learn more about how to manage stress

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