With people spending up to 9 hours at their workplaces, the office of today has become the new home while away from home. Hours of daily interaction, organizational stress, long shifts in front of computers, risking shortcuts to meet deadlines, consumption of junk food and handling of equipment or machinery without proper training are just a few pointers towards why workers are increasingly becoming unhealthy and unsafe at work. That is why occupational health & safety is a matter of great importance in the current job sector. Unhealthy and unsafe personnel are not only liabilities to themselves, but as well to their co-workers and their organizations.

Unfortunately, no statistics concerning occupational health and safety are currently accessible in Pakistan, because a greater part of accidents are not reported to the Labor Department. Diseases and accidents in the Pakistani work places are an appalling tragedy. The frequency of occupational diseases and injuries is very high because thousands of workers are regularly exposed to unsafe practices at work. However, remaining safe and healthy at work is an individual struggle. With some common sense and attentiveness, we cannot only care for ourselves, but also for our co-workers and our workplaces. Following are a few tips on how to remain safe and healthy at work.

Learn to Say “NO” to a Task that’s Unsafe

If you’re asked by your supervisor or the manager to perform a task; which you think is too risky or just unsafe, remember that you have the legal right to refuse. Saying “No” can at times save yourself and other people’s lives. However, the trick is to say it in a professional manner, so as not to offend the boss and potentially risk your career. Inform your supervisor why you think the job is too risky. Maybe it’s because there are too many potential hazards, or you might not have received proper training in performing the task. Ask the supervisor his/her viewpoints on why they consider the task safe? Are they able to show you how it can be done properly? Let them know of your doubts and request assistance or extra tools to help you, if necessary. Always remember that if you are going to put yourself in a tight spot, with prior knowledge, you are solely responsible for all the outcomes.

Learn to Identify & Report Workplace Hazards

In order to point out potential hazards at your workplace, get training on standard occupational health & safety and also learn basic First Aid. Furthermore, ask your company on their policies and procedures for identifying, reporting and eliminating internal risks and hazards. Sometimes, all it takes is good use and co-ordination of your senses to recognize vulnerability at your workplace. Make sure that all the electrical equipment that you handle has been checked and properly installed by a professional. Furthermore, enquire questions like, is their a fire extinguisher handy and does someone know how to use it? Does the office have a first aid kit? You may feel hesitant asking these questions at first, but remember they are your right to know, as they concern your own well-being and life.

Don’t let Stress take the Better of You

Corporate stress is something we all have to endure at sometime within our careers. However, job pressure regarding deadlines is one thing but mental stress leading to psycho-social problems is something completely different and alarming. Apart from making workers increasingly distressed, irritable, anxious, insomniac, depressed & tired, work stress can cause personality disorders, as it severely affects the immune system, leaving psychological impacts. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder are a few examples of such psychological impacts caused by work stress. Proper stress management training and organizational management is needed to avoid the development of stress factors at the workplace. If you feel you’re stressed out or one of your co-workers is, immediately notify the supervisor with proper reasoning. Take work, duties and responsibilities with reasonable enough time-frame. Remember never to over-burden yourself or let your job take over your physical and mental well-being. A good tip to take your mind off the stress at work is to treat yourself with a bit of chocolate or anything sweet.

Enjoy Healthy Food Practices at Work

Instead of opting for coffee and smoke breaks, do yourself a favour by quitting both. Plus, smoking is just something you would really want to avoid, especially at work. Eat a wide selection of foods, including plenty of fresh and seasonal fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Reduce junk food, takeaways, saturated fats and processed foods to the minimum. Make sure that you drink plenty of water and possibly try some herbal teas in its place of coffee and tea. Keeping a water bottle on the desk is a great and simple way to stay healthy. Plus, it helps in constantly reminding you that you need to drink plenty of water to keep yourself from dehydration. Another advantage is that water detoxifies our body systems, maintaining our health along the way. Furthermore, drinking water at regular intervals will help you fight fast food cravings.

Stay Fit not Fixed to the Computer

If you’re spending too much time sitting fixed to the computer, you’re possibly going to end up with muscle pain in the arms, stress and redness in the eyes and probably some weight gain. Turn off the monitor every couple of hours for five minutes. This will give your stressed eyes a much needed rest. Utilize these five minutes to loosen up, close your eyes or else direct your attention on other things. You could also take time off to get away from your desk and if possible go for a quick walk outside. Also consider stretching your arms and legs, while at break.  Stretching helps by keeping your body loose and flexible; it increases suppleness and blood circulation; plus, it sets your metabolism in motion and keeps your body warm.

Most importantly, keep your family and loved ones in view at work. Remember, they are one of the reasons we are at work, and that someone is waiting for us at home to arrive safe and healthy back from work.

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