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Five safeguards to stay safe and healthy at work

September 21, 2016

You go to work to bring home a paycheck—not the flu, carpal tunnel syndrome or some other health problem.

So how do you stay safe and healthy on the job? Here are five key safeguards.

Protect yourself from disease-causing germs. Get a flu vaccine every year—as soon as you’re able. “It’s the best way to avoid getting a nasty case of the flu from a co-worker and missing work—or worse, getting sick enough to be hospitalized,” says Dr. F. Ward Blair, with Kettering Physician Network Primary Care at Springboro Health Center.

“Wash your hands often with soap and water and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth,” advises Blair.

Drinking a lot of fluids — especially water — can help combat the dry air inside many offices.

Blair reminds you to smother a cough to prevent the airborne spread of germs and wash your hands before touching something else.

Other ways to keep from getting disease-causing germs is to get adequate rest and eat healthy to maintain your strength and vitality to fight off illnesses.

“Do your co-workers a favor and stay at home if you’re sick with a flu-like illness,” Blair says.

Avoid a sore back by lifting properly. Picking up something heavy? Get close to the object, bend at both knees and lift with your leg muscles. Don’t bend at your waist.

Sit smart at your desk. Keep your back in a normal, slightly arched position, with your head and shoulders erect. Make sure your chair supports your lower back. Try to stand and stretch every couple of hours. In order to avoid neck and shoulder pain, Blair recommends you adjust your computer screen so you’re not tilting your head.

Prevent computer-related eyestrain. If you spend a lot of time in front of the computer or focusing on any one thing close up, follow the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes, focus on a point about 20 feet away for about 20 seconds.

Guard against carpal tunnel syndrome. You’re at risk for this painful disorder of the wrists and hands if you do the same hand movements over and over throughout the day. To help prevent it, take regular breaks from repeated hand movements. And if possible, switch hands during work tasks.

If you use a keyboard, adjust the height of your chair so that your forearms are level with the keyboard and you don’t have to flex your wrists to type.

Do not wait until you begin experiencing health problems to schedule an appointment with your family physician. If you don't have a family doctor, our Physician Referral Service will be happy to help find a doctor that meets your needs.

Periodic wellness checks for all ages are a great time to get advice on which preventive screenings, vaccines and tests are appropriate for you and your family.