U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Stay Safe at Work

The Basics

The Basics: Overview

Staying safe and healthy at work is very important. If you don't work in a safe way, you can get hurt or sick. Back injuries are the most common type of workplace injury.

There are things you can do – both at work and at home – to lower your chances of getting hurt or sick. 

Take these steps to prevent injuries and stay healthy at work:

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

It's also important to:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat a healthy diet and 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. For example:

  • You can injure your back, shoulders, or neck if you lift or carry heavy objects.
  • You can get hurt when you do the same activity over and over again, like typing or working on an assembly line. This is called a repetitive motion injury.
  • You can be injured or lose your hearing if you don't wear the right protective equipment for the work you do.

Taking steps to stay healthy and safe 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:

  • Bend at your knees, not at your waist.
  • Keep your back straight.
  • Test the object first. If it’s too heavy, get help.

Get more tips on safer lifting at work [PDF - 67KB].

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 and injury prevention 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 office equipment is set up right for you.

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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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