Tips for helping employees avoid injuries when tackling projects in and around the house

The great summer weather New Hampshire has enjoyed has a way of putting an extra bounce in everyone’s step. Even the most inconspicuous employees turn into weekend warriors who attempt to tackle a year’s worth of household projects in two days.

But beware – sometimes climbing steep ladders to get to those hard-to-reach places, doing yard work, or cleaning out the garage can cause an injury that leads to a short-term or long-term disability.

According to the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts,” falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States and account for almost 8.9 million visits to the emergency room each year.

In addition, the Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education says nearly one in three women and one in four men can expect to suffer a disability that keeps them out of work for 90 days or longer at some point during their working years.

With statistics like these, it is important to make sure your employees are protected and have the coverage they need if and/or when they experience a disability. It’s important to offer disability coverage that provides employees with “more than a benefits check.”

Here are five tips that will help your employees avoid an injury or disability when they are working on their “honey do” projects:

 • Stretch, stretch, stretch: Before you get started, warm up your muscles by stretching. This can help you avoid muscle, neck or back injuries. It’s likely that your tasks will include some lifting and bending, so make sure your muscles are ready for action (also remember to use proper form).

 • Corner your clutter: As you tackle the turmoil, place items that need to be sorted, such as boxes and piles of paper, in a corner. Keep the walkways and spaces that are close to stairways clear, because slipping on a sheet of paper or tripping on an unforeseen object can easily cause a fall or tumble down the stairs.

 • Step steady: Have a spotter on hand who can hold a ladder steady if you plan to clean high places. Also, make sure you are wearing proper shoes, such as work boots or sneakers, to keep yourself stable when you’re elevated. Don’t stand on a chair or a table in these instances.

 • Hire help: Know your limits. If you are prone to back injuries or unable to lift heavy items, it’s a good idea to bring in a cleaning crew to help with certain areas in your home, or have a landscape company handle all of the yard work that involves a lot of bending and hauling.

 • Protect yourself: Make sure you wear protective gear, such as safety glasses and gloves, when handling sharp tools and while working in the yard. This can protect you from sharp objects such as thorns, unexpected jagged rocks or a shard of glass.

Share these tips with your employees. They will help them complete their projects in a safe way, which will let them spend the rest of their time enjoying the pleasant weather.

Dr. Richard P. Lafleur, medical director of Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in New Hampshire, also practices internal medicine at Southern New Hampshire Internal Medicine, a group practice he helped found in 1989.