Wednesday, June 4, 2008

America’s Surprisingly Unhealthy Jobs

Forget stuntmen. Some of the country’s least healthy jobs are in cubicles, hospitals, and restaurants. Are you at risk?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it’s not just farm laborers or police officers who have high rates of some common – and seemingly benign – professions have high rates of injury and illnesses that were severe enough of work in 2006.

Danger in Some Workplaces

The following professions are among the highest in terms of injuries and illnesses, listed in descending order ---BLS (in parentheses).

Construction Worker (125,120)
“Falls and problems from repeated hammering are the biggest problems,” says Garrett Brown, an industrial hygienist ….Administration.

Office/Administrative Staff (83,320)
The biggest risk is repetitive strain injuries from typing, as well as illnesses from inhaling toxic printing inks and other ….

Sales Staff (76,210)
These jobs may seem innocent, but Brown says salespeople fall from ladders while gathering merchandise, strain their repetitive strain from typing reports, and even suffer injuries from malfunctioning displays.

Nursing Aides, Orderlies, and Attendants (49,480)
These workers can be exposed to everything from toxic chemical in hospitals and nursing homes to strains from lifting

Janitors and Housekeepers (46,540)
The heavy carts many housekeepers push can injure their backs and potent cleaning supplies can cause illnesses,

Registered Nurses (20,500)
Lifting heavy patients, getting hit by gurneys, or attacked by family members can cause injuries.

Waiters (9,520)
“Those heavy trays don’t carry themselves,” says Dr. Davis Liu, author of “Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely…Healthcare System.” He continues, “Everything is super-sized, and waiters are carrying 5-10 pound trays repeatedly in hand.”

Computer Specialists (2,720)
“The ergonomic problem her is not only typing, but also workplace design,” says Brown. “Sometimes they squeeze”

What You Can Do

Experts offer four simple suggestions for preventing illness and injury that apply to most professions.

1. Work it out.

Even if you sit at a desk all day, treat yourself like an athlete, suggests Liu.

“When you get overuse injuries, your body is saying, ‘If you want me to do this, you’ve got to make me really strong…hurting.”

Work with a physical therapist, get regular exercise, and work on strengthening the muscles you job uses most.

2. Take breaks.

A lot of injuries result from not stretching or relaxing. Set a timer to go off every hour and take a break. Stretch shoulders…by you work, suggests Liu. Then do deep breathing to de-stress before returning to work.

3. Double up.

If your work requires protective gear, keep spares with you always. Store extra gloves, goggles, and other supplies ….

4. Follow your office’s safety program. “If it doesn’t have one, report your employer to OSHA (Occupational Safety). No one should sit on their hands and hope for the best. Even though it can be difficult financially, say …no to your boss.

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