Carpal Tunnel Prevention

How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel in the Office

Carpal tunnel is caused by repetitive hand or wrist motions and affects the median nerve in the wrist and can lead to numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in the hand or arm.  There are many things that you can do that can help prevent carpal tunnel while you are at work or home.  Proper posture and keeping your wrists straight are very important, yet a quick and easy ways to prevent carpal tunnel.  Below are other tips you can use to reduce the risk of carpal tunnel.

  • Your forearms should be level with the keyboard and you should not have to flex in order to type.
  • Hold your hands and wrists at a 90 degree angle with your forearm – If you work at a keyboard, you may have to tilt it to help keep the alignment.
  • Keep elbows close to your side and don’t let your hands, wrists, or elbows rest on any surface while working.
  • Use a pad across the front of the keyboard, this will help cushion and elevate your wrist and reduce the strain that is usually put on them.
  • The way you may be sitting can cause a strain on your wrist – Make sure your chair is adjusted to the correct height
  • Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time – Take breaks every 10 to 15 minutes to stretch and rotate your wrists.
  • If the task only requires the use of one hand for repetitive motion try and switch hands – Using both hands will help reduce the strain you are putting on them.
  • Avoid gripping things (such as a tool or mouse) too tightly – Many people tend to grip pens and other equipment tighter than necessary which can cause the muscles to strain.

Arm and wrist muscle stretches are an easy way to prevent carpel tunnel.  Below are a few easy exercises you can do at your desk to help reduce the risk of carpal tunnel.

  • Extend your arms straight out in front of you with your palms facing forward – Hold this position for 5 seconds.
  • Straighten both wrists and relax your fingers. They should by pointing in front of you but not stiff. Then make a fist with both hands, bend both wrist down so your knuckles are facing the floor – Hold this position for five seconds.
  • Let your arms hang loosely at your side. Shake them for a few seconds – Repeat this ten times.

How to Prevent Carpal Tunnel in the Office

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Prevent Machinery Related Injuries

Crushed hands and arms, severed fingers, and blindness are just a few of the long horrifying list of possible machinery-related injuries.

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Any machine part, function or process that may cause injury must be safeguarded to ensure you are protecting yourself while operating machinery.  Accidents usually result from a combination of factors that include both hazardous machine conditions and careless human actions.  Safety procedures like Lockout/Tagout are critical for the service and maintenance of machinery or electrical systems where employees or students could be hurt by the unexpected start up, or energization, of the equipment.

Safety Tips:

  • Recognize the hazards by identifying all actions and hazards associated with each piece of equipment or machinery.
  • Ensure proper use of safeguarding and reinforce the program by training, education and enforcement.
  • Develop an effective Lockout/Tagout program to ensure that machines and circuits are properly shut off or de-energized to prevent unexpected startups.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing and jewelry and keep long hair tied back.
  • Use proper methods of safeguarding.

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Common Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Misconceptions

PPEPersonal protective equipment (PPE) helps to keep millions of employees safe in the workplace. From goggles to steel-toe boots, PPE plays a vital part in reducing employee exposure to hazards.  Below are common PPE misconceptions:

  • “If my staff won’t wear PPE, I can’t make them”
    • If PPE has been deemed necessary, then it is not optional and employers can require its use.
  • “The more PPE I wear the better”
    • Overprotection and under protection can be equally dangerous, according to the Kimberly-Clark Professional: Exceptional Workplaces website.
      • Overprotection may lead to heat stress caused by wearing too many layers.
      • Under protection may lead to chronic health problems after years of exposure to certain hazardous substances.
      • Find PPE that offers the best protection and that provides the greatest comfort to the wearer.
  • “Gloves are slippery, I can’t get a good grip” or “I can’t wear gloves, I have a latex allergy”
    • Find gloves that have a textured finish on the fingertips, they will make it easier to grasp small and lightweight objects such as test tubes and glassware.
    •  Individuals with a latex allergy can switch to a alternative, such as nitrile, neoprene or vinyl gloves.
  • “This job will only take a minute, I can skip putting on PPE” Or “One piece of PPE is good enough”
    • It only takes a second for an accident to occur. Whether the job only puts you in a hazardous situation for 10 minutes or 10 hours, you still need to have on all required PPE. Exceptions lead to injuries and deaths.PPE
    • You need to wear all PPE that is required for a particular job. If you don’t, it could have serious ramifications, like injury and death. While working with chemicals you may be wearing glasses to protect your eyes, but if you’re not wearing gloves or a proper jacket your hands and body are vulnerable to chemical burns. When deciding what types of PPE are needed for a job, consider all areas of the body, from head to toe and everywhere in between.
  • “Cleaning and storing PPE isn’t that important”
    • After each use, PPE must be properly cleaned and stored according to their instructions. If PPE is damaged it won’t function the way it’s intended which leaves you open to injury and health hazards. Damaged or worn-out PPE should be immediately be replaced.

Seasonal Safety – Hello Summer! Part 2

Summer Safety TipsTypically we are still anticipating the warm summer days this time of year, but summer has arrived with record breaking force. While some of us are excited for summer’s long days filled with warmth and fun, there can be a not-so-sunny side to hot summer days.  Visits to the emergency room tend to peak during summertime.

Don’t let summertime hazards ruin your summer; from heat-related illness to water safety, from travel to cookouts, Kaiser Permanente has some great safety tips to protect ourselves and our family. They’ve also created this awesome infographic that would be a perfect reminder to post on your fridge.

Enjoy the Summer Sun, But Be Safe!

Seasonal Safety – Hello Summer!

Weather Forecast

Stay Safe! We’ve got a heat wave coming!

As we say goodbye to spring and hello to warm Summer days, we need to be aware of hazards that summer weather can negatively effect your health and well-being.

When working outdoors in the hot summer months, cover up, use sunscreen, and limit exposure to UV rays which are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The sun can be very damaging to your skin if it is left unprotected so make sure to use sunscreen and dress appropriately. Keep all clothing light colors. Darker fabric will attract and absorb the sun.  Wear clothes that breath. Nothing should be too tight, this allows fresh air to flow over your skin and help you stay cool. Sunglasses and hats are great accessories for the summer season. Sunglasses will help to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and hats are great at preventing sunburn and they also help keep your body slightly cooler.

Heat illness can be deadly, always remember: water, rest, shade. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids like water or Gatorade, stay away from sugary soda and energy drinks as they can speed up dehydration. Take breaks and go indoors or into an air-conditioned car. It is important to allow your body a chance to recover from the heat. If you feel dizzy, weak or nauseous take a break immediately. If your symptoms do not go away after getting out of the heat, you should seek medical attention.

Working in an office does not mean you are exempt from summertime hazards.  Flip-flops are notorious for slips, trips, and falls. Open-toed shoes and sandals are also notorious for creating workplace safety hazards.

Be prepared and stay safe during these hot summer months.

Back Basics – Pick Up Tips

Lifting Safety
Proper lifting technique and appropriate planning is critical to back safety and preventing lifting injuries. Before you lift that box, tool or piece of equipment consider the following:

  • Examine the object for sharp corners, slippery spots or other potential hazards.
  • Know your limit and do not try to exceed it.
  • Ask for help if needed.
  • If possible, divide the load to make it lighter.
  • Know where you are going to set the item down and make sure the destination and your path are free of obstructions.

Poor lifting technique can cause both acute injury and serious chronic effects. Learning the right way to lift will help you avoid these problems.

  • Do not attempt to lift by bending forward.
  • Avoid turning or twisting your body while lifting or holding a heavy object.
  • Never lift a heavy object above shoulder level.
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart with one foot slightly ahead of the other (think karate stance).
  • Tighten your stomach muscles to keep your back in good lifting position, thereby creating your own internal support.
  • Lift slowly with your legs. Squat down, keep your back straight, and bend at the hips and knees only.
  • Hold and lift the object as close to your body as possible at the level of your belly button. Maintain a firm hold on the object you are lifting.
  • Take short steps.
  • Set down your load carefully, squatting with the knees and hips only.

Consider using mechanical help wherever possible. Oftentimes the item you are moving can be moved with a dolly, hand truck or forklift. If the item needs to be moved manually and it is heavy or awkward in shape, ask for help or make sure you have someone around who can help you lift.

Watch Your Step – Slips, Trips, and Fall Safety

Slips, trips and falls are the most frequent accidents leading to personal injury. They can result in head injuries, back injuries, broken bones, sprained muscles, or cuts and lacerations.

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Most slips, trips and fall incidents are preventable by maintaining awareness of your surroundings and paying attention to your walking surface.

  • Watch out for wet or waxed floors.
  • Do not text while walking.
  • Report for repair rugs and carpets that are frayed or are not properly tacked down.
  • Use caution when walking over loose flooring, tiles, bricks, pavement or floorboards.
  • Clean up or report all spills and wet areas immediately. Don’t wait for a small spill or wet area to dry itself.Lost time resulting from slips, trips, and falls
  • Tidy up your area; even a small object on the floor can cause a trip and fall.
  • Keep extension cords out of pathways. Use walkway cord covers if necessary.
  • Report for repair or replacement any stair treads that are cracked or worn.
  • Don’t store materials, boxes, etc. in hallways, aisles or stairs.
  • Carry only what you can handle. Don’t rush and never carry a load you can’t see over.
  • Keep file cabinet and desk drawers closed.
  • Report any stairways and hallways that are not lit well.
  • Never use furniture or boxes as makeshift ladders. Use a sturdy, balanced stepladder or a step stool.
  • Make sure your cuff or hem isn’t so long that you catch a heel while walking.

If you see a safety hazard on campus, please contact ehs@greenriver.edu.

Slips, Trips, Falls, Accidental DeathReport any accidents or incidents – even minor ones. Minor injuries occur in greater numbers than serious injuries and records of these injuries can pinpoint problem areas and prevent someone from experiencing a more serious injury down the line.

Help the EH&S Committee maintain a safe campus.