Insurer says job injuries cost companies billions

WORKING DIGEST

April 12, 2006

You don't have to wash the windows of Manhattan skyscrapers or be an Appalachian coal miner to worry about health and safety at work. On average 9,000 U.S. workers a day suffer a disabling injury and many more times that fall ill.

Most injuries and illnesses aren't catastrophic but they do add up to lost productivity, increased costs to business and, ultimately, less satisfied workers. According to a survey by insurer Liberty Mutual, employers spent $50.8 billion in 2003 on workers hurt on the job.

It is the responsibility of employers to provide a healthy working environment, but workers can also take some positive steps to make sure they're comfortable.

About a third of job-related injuries are musculoskeletal, including overexertion while lifting heavy objects, falls and strains and pains from body position and repeated motions.

Dr. Gregory Wagner of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a federal agency, says workers should have a "flexible" work environment, meaning you can adjust the position of your chair, keyboard and your distance from a computer monitor. Frequent breaks to stretch the legs also cut down on problems.

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