September 2019

Safety Tip: September

Oh, My Aching Head!

Headaches affect over 70 percent of adults. While most people just take an over-the-counter painkiller for a headache and “tough it out,” there are things to do to prevent headaches as well as stop the increase in accidents and decline in productivity caused by them. 

Types of Headaches:

Stress or tension headaches. These usually are a dull ache on both sides of the head or a feeling of tightening or pressure. 

Migraines. These headaches are moderate to severe and can affect normal work activities. They can be a throbbing or pulsating pain and can cause nausea, vision problems, and sensitivity to light and sound. 

Cluster headaches. These are centered over one eye and can cause that eye to water and become inflamed. These headaches come and go, but usually occur at the same time of day. 

Headache Triggers:

The way to prevent headaches is to identify what triggers them. Triggers are not the same for everyone, but usually include:

Hunger or missing a meal can cause the blood sugar to drop, causing a headache. 

Lack of sleep, anxiety, tress or anger.

Previous alcohol or drug consumption (or even heavy smoking). 

Strong odors or fumes or poor indoor air quality, loud or repetitive noises.

Poor lighting or flickering lights, eyestrain 


Over-the-counter medications. Only take these when necessary and follow the directions on the label. Overuse of aspirin and other pain relievers may actually worsen the symptoms or cause “rebound” headaches and stomach upset. 

Fresh air. Getting outside for a few minutes often helps to clear your head. ¾ Apply an ice pack to the back of your neck or splash your face with cold water. 

Stress reduction. Stress is the number one trigger for headaches. 

Work Prevention:

Work with your supervisor if you think the lighting in your work area is inadequate or if there is headache-causing glare. Report any strong odors or suspected fumes in your workplace. Use hearing protection if noise is causing your headaches. Don’t skip meals; keep healthy snacks at your workplace and avoid foods that trigger headaches. If you sit hunched over a desk or workbench, make it a point to get up and stretch periodically. Think about what types of stress are causing your headaches and try to lessen or eliminate the source problems. Stretching or breathing exercises can reduce stress and can be done at the workstation. 


If a headache is sudden or severe, affects only one side of the head, is accompanied by nausea and vomiting, causes weakness in the limbs or face, or if there is mental confusion or loss of consciousness, seek medical help immediately. If you have previously been headache-free and have started getting consistent headaches, headaches in a definite pattern, or headaches different than you have ever had before, it is wise to see your doctor.


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