Workplace safety Gear ImportanceWorkplace safety is where it all begins to prevent work injuries.  No worker in Iowa wants to get hurt at work, deal with medical care, physical and mental pain, deal with an insurance company and perhaps lose their job.  Some injuries are not preventable, but following some basic safety rules can help prevent a preventable work injury. 

Keep in mind that the Iowa workers' compensation system is a no-fault system meaning that you do not have to prove your employer or another employee was negligent.  Also, even if you are partially at fault for injuries it should not have any impact on your case.  Regardless, here are some common workplace safety rules that can help prevent an unwanted work injury.

Common Workplace Safety Rules

            1. Warming up- If you have a physically demanding job where you will be lifting, carrying and working with heavy items then it is a good idea to warm-up before starting your shift.  Some employers have a warm-up session, but many do not so you will probably need to do this on your own.  Warming up can include doing some light stretching, arm circles, walking, etc.  This can help prevent injuries to your back, shoulder, hips, arms and other body parts. 


            2. Using Safety Devices- In many jobs your employer will provide you with safety equipment such as reflective vests, hearing protection, eye protection, etc.  They are giving you these items for a reason and failing to use them may not only result in your being injured but also being fired for not following company policy.  Further, if you end up with hearing loss, failing to wear hearing protection provided by your employer can result in you receiving no compensation for your injury. 


            3. Protecting Yourself- You should be on the look-out for employees who may not be being as safe as you are.  For example, if you work in a warehouse or a factory you may feel safe walking between the yellow lines where forklifts are not supposed to drive.  However, you should be on the look-out for forklift operators who may not be paying attention, are distracted or generally are not very good drivers.  Assuming that the other workers will do their job safely and properly can cause you to have serious and life-changing injuries.   


            4. Staying Physically Fit and Healthy- Yes we have all heard this a million times from our doctors, family and friends that we need to stay in shape.  Staying in shape can help you prevent a work injury and if you are injured it will likely help you make a quicker recovery than someone who is not in shape.  It is recommended that you get at least 2 hours of cardiovascular each week which can include walking, running, bicycling, swimming, aerobics, etc.  It is also recommended that you lift weights 2 to 3 times per week.  You do not have to lift heavy weights, but lifting weights helps you maintain muscle mass, keep your bones strong and burns calories along with way. 


            5. Eating Healthy and Maintaining a Good Weight- Once again this is someone we have all heard many times, but eating fruits, vegetables and lean unprocessed meats help keep inflammation down in our bodies.  Inflammation can cause pain, injury, joint pain, and arthritis all increasing the likelihood of injury.  Foods that can cause inflammation are sugars, high fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats usually listed as "partially hydrogenated" oils such as margarine, excessive alcohol use defined by 2 or more drinks per day for men and one for women, and processed meats (bacon, sausage, ham, smoked meat and beef jerky).  Eating healthier foods should naturally cause you to not only be healthier but also to lose body fat. 


While the above factors are important, the type of work that you do may be the biggest factor.  Year after year, more nurses are injured than any other occupation here in the US.  Most of these injuries happen to CNA's (certified nurse's aides) who are the ones assigned to do direct patient care. However, LPN's and RN's also sustain work injuries at an alarming rate.  Nurses can be injured when trying to adjust a patient in the bed, preventing a patient from falling and being injured, doing direct patient care such as bathing a patient, falling while tripping over a cord or because of a slick floor, being assaulted by mentally unstable patients and many other hazards of the job.  While nurses sustain a wide array of injuries some of the most common ones are back injuries (herniated discs, bulging disks, fractured vertebrates, and lumbar strains), shoulder injuries (torn rotator cuff, injured labrum, SLAP tears, torn biceps), neck injuries (herniated and bulging disks, cervical strain, aggravation of degenerative disc disease), and hip injuries (fractured femur, torn muscles, damaged ligaments).


To learn more about the work of nurses in Iowa which includes how to deal with work injuries, employment information such as how to deal with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), pregnancy leave, if you need your own insurance policy and much more request a copy of our "Iowa Nurse Employment Guide" which we offer at no cost or risk to nurses and their families here in Iowa. We offer our books at no cost because we have seen too many good, hardworking Iowans make a mistake that cost them thousands of dollars and sometimes even their job. 

The fact is that some jobs are just more dangerous than others which is why workers' compensation insurance premiums vary by occupation.  For example, the rates for a construction company will be higher than for an attorney's office.  The more hazardous the job, the more work injuries that will occur and the higher the insurance premiums that the employer will pay.  Also, even if the job is has a relatively low risk to cause a work injury, if a claim is reported this can also increase workers' compensation insurance premiums.  This is why many employers focus on workplace safety because if they can prevent a work injury, then they save money and the employee is happier not having been injured which is a win-win situation. 

As you can see, workplace safety is a top priority for both employers and their employees.  We hope that some of these tips will help prevent at least some Iowa work injuries.
Corey Walker
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With over 28 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.