Monday Medical: Staying safe on the job |

Monday Medical: Staying safe on the job

Susan Cunningham
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

If you get injured on the job, an occupational medicine provider can help you navigate through treatments. Even better, they can help both employees and employers avoid on-the-job injuries in the first place with a variety of prevention tips.

“Being proactive with preventative measures can exponentially reduce your number of work-related injuries,” said Melissa McKibben, a nurse practitioner with UCHealth Occupational Medicine Clinic in Steamboat Springs.

McKibben outlines strategies for preventing on-the-job injuries below.

Implement and understand safety plans

Employers should have detailed safety plans to minimize risk of injury. That means understanding the tasks involved with each position and how best to protect employees. An occupational medicine provider can help create or review safety plans.

If you’re an employee, make sure you understand your employers’ safety policies and plans.

Provide education and training

Employees should receive regular safety education and training specific to their job duties and responsibilities.

“Having regular safety trainings can bring attention to any changes in job descriptions and can also help mitigate work-related injuries,” McKibben said. “Your safety trainings can help identify the top occupational hazards within your line of work and can help actively prevent these accidents from happening.”

Get a “Fit for Duty” physical

Getting a physical before a labor-intensive job can help identify any possible issues.

“If it’s a labor-intensive job, consider screening new hires with a physical examination,” McKibben said. “A physical therapist can look for any identifiable abnormalities, weaknesses and core strength issues to help minimize muscle sprains and strains.”

Some employers have a specific physical checklist based on the job description, for instance, whether an employee can lift 50 pounds or more.

Use the right gear for the job

That may mean wearing protective equipment, such as goggles, steel-toed boots, sun gear and protective vest.

And if you have a desk job, don’t forget to properly set up your workstation to avoid overuse injuries. Make sure your keyboard and monitors are at the right height, and take frequent breaks to move around.

Foster open dialogue

It’s important for employers to encourage open and honest conversations, and for employees to ask questions and share any worries.

“Don’t hesitate to voice any concerns if you feel uncomfortable performing a certain task,” McKibben said. “Bringing those concerns to your manager or adviser can be helpful in preventing an injury.”

Get treated for injuries

“If you’re injured on the job, complete an incident report and seek medical attention as soon as possible, so we can ensure you’re properly taken care of in a timely manner,” McKibben said.

An occupational medicine provider can help you navigate through treatments and next steps so you can safely return to your normal work routine as soon as possible.

And don’t forget that an occupational medicine provider can help with other health requirements of jobs, such as work physicals, including Department of Transportation physicals and recertifications; employment-related immunizations and health testing; and employer-required drug screens.

“We don’t just work with injured workers, although that is the bulk of what we see, but we also offer these other services and resources, too,” McKibben said.

Susan Cunningham writes for UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.