U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Stay Safe at Work

The Basics

Many people spend a lot of time at work. If work isn’t done safely, it can put a lot of wear and tear on your body. 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.

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.
  • Eat a healthy diet and stay active.
  • Watch your weight.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Manage stress.
  • Look for health resources at work.

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.

An injury caused by doing the same activity over and over is called a repetitive motion injury. More and more workers are getting repetitive motion injuries.

Taking steps to stay healthy and safe at work can help you get more done at work and feel better when you aren’t at work.

Take Action!

Take Action!

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].

Prevent repetitive motion injuries.
Sit or stand up straight while you work. 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 adjusted right for you.

Use this checklist to see if your computer workstation is safe and comfortable.

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

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 burn (use up).

Take steps to manage stress.
Feeling very worried or nervous at work can make it easier for you to get sick or hurt. Learn more about how to manage stress.

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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