In response to the dramatic rise in Musculoskeletal disorders from uncomfortable seating or repetitive tasks, workplace ergonomics is attracting national attention. These disorders can lead to frequent surgical procedures, constant pain, inability to work, reduction in productivity, and time off from work for injured employees.
Employees can continue to work longer at their tasks if the ergonomics risk factors are removed or reduced. Taking these basic precautions will help employers avoid many problems by assessing the workplace and planning and implementing ergonomic interventions proactively.
What is a Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD)?
A musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) is an injury or condition that affects the human body’s mobility or the musculoskeletal system. It is also referred to as “repetitive motion injuries” or “overuse injuries”. Some common disorders according to the CDC are sprains, muscle strains, back pain, and hernia. Others can be carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis.
These disorders can cause pain and loss of motion or mobility, which can last for years or most of one’s life. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, MSDs account for almost 30% of all workers’ compensation claims. Businesses are also suffering from the economic costs of MSD. Over $2 billion in workers’ compensation are spent on MSDs.
How to Prevent Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) in the Workplace
There are three basic measures to relieve MSDs and sometimes even address them.
1.Check job tasks for risk factors
It is critical to analyze the relevant risks with respect to ergonomic issues such as excessive physical exertion, awkward postures, and highly repetitive physical tasks. Review job tasks in your operation to find out which ones apply.
2.Identify risk factors and control them
Managing ergonomic risks requires engineering controls to improve parts and materials transportation and change the layout of the workstation, tool design, access and assembly series.
A variety of administrative controls change work processes and procedures to mitigate ergonomic risk factors. They can include more rest breaks, task rotation, or training on stress recognition.
Several types of PPE, like wrist brackets, back belts, and vibration attenuation gloves, can be considered, although their effectiveness in reducing injury is not conclusive by NIOSH.
3.Make the workspace more ergonomic
Any task requires the right tools and the right workspace. The key is to understand the job process and the safety requirements of employees.
Employees typically encounter issues with work surfaces that are either the wrong size or height. It is critical that employees be able to reorganize workstation components to fit their height and stature.
A workplace ergonomics program is good for your company and better for your employees. Companies should have a systematic approach to identifying and eliminating all risk factors that lead to musculoskeletal disorders.