Workplace Health: What to Do When Work Hurts

September 8, 2011 | carolyn

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Does your hand, wrist, neck or back ache at work?  Do you feel stressed at work?  You are not alone.


 The hand or wrist is the body part most often injured on the job, office and computer workers suffer the highest incidence of neck problems, and men in blue collar jobs are four times more likely to experience an injury than those working in business according to the (2009) Environmental Scan on Workplace Health in Canada.



There are many factors that make up a healthy workplace including the physical conditions such as noise, air quality and light and the quality of equipment.  Social and personal conditions such as relations with co-workers and supervisors also play a role in the health of employees.   

Preventing workplace injuries is the responsibility of employers and employees.  Read Your Protection, a series of short, informative documents about protecting your hands, back, ears, eyes, feet, head, lungs and skin from Labour Canada.

Repetitive strain injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis and tendonitis are common injuries in many occupations.  The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario (WSIB) has produced a short booklet with recommendations called Repetitive Strain Injuries.

Office workers sitting for long periods at desks and computers should take short stretching breaks to avoid injury.  The Mayo Clinic has produced a slide show on Office stretches as well as videos for Seated stretches for the office, Standing stretches for the office, Neck stretches for the office, Upper body stretches for the office, and Forearm stretches for the office.  Check to see if your work space is arranged for comfort with Office ergonomics: Your how-to guide

Pressure at work often results in stress-related illnesses.  The work load may be too much or too little, the hours too long and unsociable, the pay and chances of promotion are low and supervisors may be unsupportive.  The World Health Organization (WHO) has produced a short booklet outlining the cause, effects and prevention of workplace stress, Work Organization & Stress.

Check out the Library's recent books about ergonomics for more information about organizing the workplace to prevent injury and for workplace health.  To see which branch has a copy of the book and to place a hold, click on the title or cover link;

Ergonomics for Beginners 
Fitting the Human 
Office Ergonomics 
Ergonomics for Beginners Fitting the Human Office Ergonomics


Unhealthy Work 
Work Makes Me Nervous 
Unhealthy Work Work Makes Me Nervous


The following books provide information about exercises to prevent or treat injuries.


Healthy Shoulder Handbook 
Solid to the Neck 
Yoga for Computer Users 
Healthy Shoulder Handbook Solid to the Neck Yoga for Computer Users