By Tom Wiffler, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Specialty Benefits
For most Americans, the workplace is typically a safe spot. Yet each year private-industry employers report approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries or illnesses, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
While many of these occur due to the hazardous nature of some professions – logger, for instance – injuries can occur at office jobs, too. Carpel tunnel syndrome, for instance, affects as many as 1.9 million people and may be connected to poor workspace ergonomics, such as the improper placement of your desk, chair, and computer monitor or keyboard.
June is National Safety Month, an opportune time to consider ways to reduce your risk of workplace accidents and injuries. From sprains and pulled muscles to more serious injuries that may cause a hospital stay, physical pain can take many forms, and have a significant impact on productivity and your day-to-day life. Here are some tips to consider to help protect yourself from potential workplace injuries:
Watch your surroundings and use safety gear
Be wary of wet floors, and loose cables and carpeting, which can cause unexpected falls. If you want to reach something high up, don’t use unstable surfaces or chairs as ladders. If recommended for your job, wear protective gear such as earplugs, safety googles, gloves or hard hats.
Lift items as safely as possible
When trying to pick up boxes or heavy items, squat to the floor and use your legs, instead of your back, to rise. It’s important to use the strength in your legs and keep your back straight – and keep your core engaged – the entire time. The same should be done when setting down heavy objects.
Position your workstation ergonomically
You may develop musculoskeletal issues from sitting at a desk that doesn’t match your body – a screen that is too low or high, a chair that doesn’t support your back or if your wrists are positioned at an awkward angle. Generally, when working at a computer, people’s hands, wrists and forearms are straight, in-line and parallel to the floor. Click here for more steps to help set up your workstation to minimize potential injuries.
Take short breaks and get a good night’s sleep
Don’t forget to take a few minutes during your day to stretch and walk around to prevent soreness, especially when doing repetitive tasks. It may also be a good idea to warm-up before you start the workday. Also, being well rested is important: This helps you be more productive, and keeping you more alert and capable of preventing injuries like falls. Getting enough sleep can also help reduce stress and anxiety.
Seek support if injured
If you are hurt at work, seek medical attention (if needed) and notify your supervisor and HR department. To qualify for workers’ compensation, employees must notify their company – in writing – as soon as possible, with specific notice requirements varying significantly by state. Also, employees should check if they have access to an accident protection plan, which can provide a cash payout following a workplace injury and, in some instances, offer support from a case manager to help with recovery.
For people enrolled in an eligible UnitedHealthcare accident, critical illness or hospital indemnity plan, they can receive benefit payouts faster and easier through the industry-first Supplemental Health Benefit Assist Program. Benefit Assist features a team of UnitedHealthcare Benefit Assistants who contact via phone or email an eligible plan participant to kick-start the claim process following a qualifying critical illness diagnosis, hospital stay or serious accident.
Benefit Assist is designed to help employees receive benefit payouts faster and more efficiently, which may help employees focus more on healing and getting healthy. The program is available to companies nationwide with 250 or more employees enrolled in both UnitedHealthcare medical and supplemental health plans, including accident, critical illness or hospital indemnity coverage.
For more information about Benefit Assist, click here.
Benefit Assist is offered to Employers with 250 or more Employees who have purchased both a fully insured UnitedHealthcare Medical and one or more UnitedHealthcare Supplemental Health Plans. Supplemental Health Plans include Critical Illness, Hospital Indemnity, and Accident Protection Products.
UnitedHealthcare Critical Illness, Hospital Indemnity, and Accident Protection products are provided by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company. Critical Illness and Hospital Indemnity coverage are NOT considered “minimum essential coverage” under the Affordable Care Act and therefore do NOT satisfy the
mandate to have health insurance coverage. Hospital Indemnity provides a limited benefit for certain hospital indemnity plan benefits. Failure to have other health insurance coverage may be subject to a tax penalty. Please consult a tax advisor. The policies have exclusions, limitations, reductions of benefits,
and terms under which the policy may be continued in force or discontinued. For costs and complete details of the coverage, call or write your insurance agent or the company. Some products are not available in all states. UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company is located in Hartford, CT.
Insurance coverage provided by or through UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company or its affiliates.