Hesperian Health Guides
Protect workers from injury
Working too much and too fast causes ergonomic injuries, even when workstations fit workers. To prevent strain and injury, workers also need better working conditions.
Letting our bodies rest and recover between work shifts helps prevent strain injuries. But for many workers, overtime is either forced or they need it to make enough money. Any campaign or organizing to limit overtime should go along with a campaign to improve wages. (See Chapter 19: Working too much, too fast, for too little.) Piecework and incentive pay force workers to work as fast as possible, often past their physical limits. Campaign to switch from a piecework pay rate to an hourly wage system.
Do different jobs and tasks during the day. Changing from jobs that are sitting to ones that are standing gives workers an opportunity to move different parts of their bodies. Being able to rotate among jobs or workstations makes work more interesting and gives workers the opportunity to learn new skills. This also benefits the company.
Demand training for all workers on how to do jobs safely, taking into account each worker’s size and strength. If you know how to do a job in a way that causes less strain, show your co-workers.
For jobs that are very hard on the body, such as lifting, having two or more workers do the job together can reduce the risk of injury.
Having several regular breaks during the day to move the body, rest, and drink water helps workers stay healthy. During breaks, move your body! If you work sitting, stand up and stretch your back.
Some employers might fight against more breaks. But pain and illness reduce productivity more than breaks do. Everybody works better when they are healthier and happier.