North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Guide to Surprising Hazards at the Workplace

December 16, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Most North Carolina workers’ compensation policy analysts focus on “after the fact” remedies for workplace injuries and diseases. In other words, they focus on how to get injured workers paid for things like back surgery, time off of work, and finger amputations. They also look at how insurance companies can provide better service at more affordable rates and how employers can cut through red tape to give their employees the protection they need without compromising the business’s finances or other objectives.

But what’s missing in this discussion, overall, is frank and specific talk about preventing injuries and diseases. As the old adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This cliché is common advice that’s unfortunately uncommonly practiced. Rather than focus so much on solving problems once they have already occurred, we in the North Carolina workers’ compensation system should collectively focus our energies more on attacking the root causes of workplace injures with the goal of ultimately making workplaces from the Research Triangle to the far west of the state safer for all employees.

To that end, we need to recognize dangers that often go unremarked upon – and try to figure out how to deal with these pernicious hazards.

1. Too much sugar in the workplace

Whether you work as an high powered banking executive in the Research Triangle, or you supervise a construction crew in a rural part of far western North Carolina, chances are you encounter sweets many times during your day. There might be a vending machine in your office lobby that sells extremely sugary drinks. Your secretary may keep a bowl of delicious candy on his desk. Or, if you work at a large office, you may be asked to partake in weekly or even biweekly birthday parties for your office mates, during which you’ll be fed cupcakes, ice cream, and other goodies.

The problem is that all of this sugar is extremely bad for people – bad for workers, bad for the cardiovascular system, and bad for our collective health. Furthermore, eating too much sugar can make you feel lethargic, less attentive, lightheaded, and more. Excessive sugar consumption can also lead to problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and perhaps even cancer. If North Carolina workers and employers could focus on reducing their collective sugar consumption, this would almost certainly lead to reductions in things like workplace accidents, sick days, and occupational diseases (sugar also compromises the immune system).

2. Too much informational input

Whether you are an office worker bombarded by dozens of emails everyday; or you are a construction foreman snowed under by frustrating paperwork, chances are that you get more information than you can comfortably process. Studies suggest that this overconsumption of information can be hazardous: it can lead to inattention at the workplace, general fatigue, and even depression and anxiety.

3. Not enough sunlight

Medical studies suggest that most people could benefit from getting regular sun exposure to boost levels of Vitamin D and stimulate the immune system. Unfortunately, many North Carolina workers don’t get enough sun exposure – they are trapped in office buildings all day – and this lack of natural sunlight could impair mood, cause fatigue, and lead to inattention that could further stimulate on-the-job injuries and other problems. Perhaps employers could institute a 20-30 minute break per day – kind of like a “recess” – during which workers would be encouraged to go outside and recharge.

4. Bad Ergonomics

Whether you sit in a chair for 8 hours a day, spend 8 hours doing repetitive tooling and machining work, or engage in some other repetitive or physically uncomfortable activity, you could be setting yourself up for long-term work-related injuries. Working at a computer, for instance, can create all sorts of problems from eye strain to thoracic outlet syndrome to lower back problems. Remedies could include taking regular breaks, getting better and more ergonomic office equipment, using programs like Feldenkrais or the Alexander Technique, engaging in strength training, and changing up your work tasks so that they are not as repetitive.

If you or someone close to you needs guidance with a workers’ comp issue, connect with a quality and experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation firm to go over your options and ensure that you get all benefits owed to you.

More Web Resources:

Sunlight and Vitamin D research

Good v. Bad Ergonomics


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