Are you at risk of injury?


In Canada, hundreds of people are injured every day on the job. Men tend to have more work-related injuries than women, and the types of jobs reporting the highest number of injuries involved construction and manufacturing. But there are several ways you can hurt yourself at work, and not all of them are obvious. Here are some things to look out for.

Repetitive strain

You may be at risk for repetitive strain injuries if you use the same joints and muscle groups too often, too fast, or for a long period of time. For example, using a computer mouse for long periods of time can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. Make sure to take regular breaks from anything repetitive and to stretch and move your muscles in different ways. You may also want to try varying the way you do the task. For instance, you may try a stylus in place of a mouse.

In a similar fashion, you can strain your eye muscles by focusing on one spot for a long period of time, such as when using a computer. This can lead to vision problems and headaches. When working on a computer for extended time periods, remember to give your eyes regular rest breaks. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: for every 20 minutes that you spend looking at a screen, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away from you.


Working in the same position for a long time may put you at risk of injuries. Working in a standing position for a long time can cause sore feet, varicose veins, muscle tiredness, and lower back pain. If your workstation is not properly designed, it may force you to stand in an unnatural way, which can lead to injury. If you are seated all day, you may develop hemorrhoids and a habit of slouching, which can be bad for your back. Check your posture often, and stretch and move around at regular intervals.


Lifting heavy objects – or not-so-heavy objects if they're lifted many times – can cause muscle fatigue and strain, not just in the arms but also in the back. You've heard it before: lift from the legs, and keep your back as straight as possible when lifting. As well, carry heavy objects close to your body. Better yet, carry them on a cart. How heavy is "heavy"? When you're in even the slightest doubt about the weight of an object, treat it as heavy – don't be a show-off. Consider wearing a back brace or support belt when doing heavy lifting.


If you drive a bus or a truck or use power tools, you are at risk for vibration-related injuries, such as loss of feeling in your hands and arms. Give yourself a break every so often, and avoid smoking before or while operating vibrating tools or equipment.


Naturally, things that are too hot can cause burns. But cold can also be a problem. If you handle cold materials, your hands may become numb. When that happens, you are likely to apply more force than you normally would, which may result in an injury. In addition, your body becomes less flexible when you work in a cold environment, which also increases your risk of injury.


Chemicals such as cleaning products, bleaches, paint, and other corrosive substances can cause chemical skin burns. Corrosive materials can damage exposed areas of the body, such as the skin or eyes. If you inhale chemical fumes, you can damage your respiratory or digestive tract. Some chemicals can also catch fire easily – or explode. Make sure you know the potential hazards of the chemicals that you are working with. Look for warnings on the labels of all substances you handle; some that might not seem dangerous are. Always handle corrosive materials carefully. Use a proper ventilation system, such as a fume hood, wear protective clothing, and avoid skin contact. Learn how to properly store, handle, and dispose of chemicals, and what to do in case of a spill.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

Invisible health hazards


Just because you can't see it or feel it doesn't mean it can't hurt you. The air you breathe, the sounds you hear, and even your interactions with other people can harm your health.

Air quality

Poor air quality can cause fatigue, headaches, and watery eyes. Chemicals in the air have been linked to "sick building syndrome" – buildings in which many of the workers develop chronic illnesses.

There are a number of things both employers and workers can do to help ensure good air quality:

  • Keep photocopiers in a separate room.
  • Smoke outdoors and away from doorways and air intakes – or not at all.
  • Make sure that the ventilation system is cleaned regularly, and keep it on all the time.
  • Don't block air vents with objects such as furniture or boxes.
  • Keep the temperature constant and avoid excessive humidity.
  • Eliminate all materials or chemicals that may contaminate the air quality.


High levels of noise can cause stress, headaches, nausea, and hearing loss. Noise can also affect your concentration, which can be dangerous if you're working with hazardous materials.

In some workplaces, the noise is an unavoidable part of the environment – subway stations or crowded bars with loud music, for instance. In such cases as these, it's important to be aware of the noise and protect your ears from it. Even sounds that aren't "noise" can damage your hearing. A noisy bar can be louder than a machine shop.

You can "get used to" loud noise after having been surrounded by it for a while. But that doesn't mean it's less damaging to your ears. If you're in a noisy place, take some time every so often to go somewhere quiet, not just to rest your ears but to readjust your sense of loudness.

Wear earplugs to reduce hearing damage. Most pharmacies carry sponge earplugs that are comfortable and nearly invisible. Don't just put on your headphones and crank up the tunes – using music to drown out other sounds just adds sound to sound, increasing your risk of hearing damage, unless you're using noise-cancelling headphones, which actively counteract external noise.

Noise that's not physically harmful can also cause stress and disrupt concentration. Be on the watch for sources of casual but irritating noise in your workplace. Be aware of the sounds you make that might bother others, and let others know – politely – if they are making a noise that disturbs you.


Stress can also be damaging to health. It can contribute to anxiety, high blood pressure, indigestion, headaches, and sore muscles. It can be caused by emotionally difficult working conditions as well as by such things as loud or irritating noise. For more information on dealing with stress, see our "Stress" and "Meditation" health features as well as the "Relax more" section of our "Keep Your Resolutions" feature.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

When an injury happens

Minor Ailments


In spite of efforts at prevention, work-related injuries sometimes happen. When one does, don't just "get back to work" – take care of it right away.

For repetitive strain injuries and other muscle or joint injuries, there are treatments available to reduce pain and swelling, and to prevent the problem from getting worse:

  • Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), for example naproxen or ibuprofen, are often used to help reduce pain and swelling. Muscle relaxants (methocarbamol) may also be helpful in relieving muscle stiffness.
  • Applying an ice pack to the area may help reduce pain and swelling, but only temporarily. If you suffer from a repetitive strain injury, consider wearing a splint to secure your joint in a comfortable position and help reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness.
  • Exercise is often recommended after the pain and swelling have been reduced. But talk to your doctor before starting any exercise program. After an injury, it is important to start exercising slowly to avoid muscle irritation and to prevent loss of movement in the joint. Your doctor can recommend a therapist who can teach you proper exercise for your condition.

Healthcare professionals specializing in rehabilitation medicine can help you recover from any work-related injury or illness:

  • A physiotherapist can help you use your body to the best of your ability, and will design an exercise program that will keep you fit and will build up your strength for tasks specific to your job.
  • An occupational therapist can work with you to ensure that you will be able to operate the equipment specific to your job after your injury.
  • A vocational rehabilitation counsellor can determine what other job you can do according to skills you have, or refer you to government employment agencies that specialize in retraining and job placement, if your injury does not allow you to perform your old job.
  • A psychologist can help you deal with feelings associated with your injury – it's not always easy to get back to "normal" after an injury.

While some workplace-related injuries are serious, most are not, and they don't require medical attention or being away from work for a long time. One study found that introducing return-to-work programs and promoting a prevention-focused and "people-oriented" culture are among the most important factors in helping injured workers return to work.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source:

Keep your workplace safe


In Canada, more than 1 in every 100 workers  are injured on the job each year. Machine injuries and falls are among the leading causes of death in young people.

As a worker in Canada, you have rights and responsibilities to ensure that your workplace environment is safe. In Canada, the occupational health and safety law protects you against dangers on the job. This law outlines the rights and responsibilities of the Government of Canada, the employer, and you, the worker.

There are 3 keys to maintaining a safe workplace:

  • Know how to recognize and be aware of hazards in the workplace:
    • If you're uncertain about the safe use or operation of anything you work with, insist on getting proper training.
    • Be aware of things that may injure you or damage your health, including not only any heavy or sharp objects but also such things as cleaning fluids, poor posture, and sources of stress.
    • If you work with chemicals, attend health and safety training sessions.
    • If you are an employer in Canada, you are required by law to inform and train your workers about hazardous materials used in the workplace.
  • Participate in workplace health and safety:
    • Take charge of your own safety – don't expect others to look out for you.
    • Use proper safety equipment.
    • Adjust your workspace to minimize strain and bad posture.
    • Pay attention to air quality and noise levels.
    • Report unsafe conditions to your supervisor.
    • Know who to go to for help if you have any questions about the safety of your workplace or job.
  • Refuse unsafe work: Stop working or using the equipment if you think that you are at risk of injury, and talk to your supervisor. Unless you are told that the situation is corrected, and you are no longer at risk of injury, do not continue to work. This also applies to any work condition that may damage your health over the long term, whether poor air quality, a work arrangement that puts you at risk of carpal tunnel syndrome, or an unusually stressful environment.

It is in the best interests of employers to maintain safe workplaces. Healthy, happy workers may mean more profitable businesses and will help keep workplace insurance costs down. And, of course, it is in the best interests of workers to stay healthy!

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2024. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: