Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) in the workplace affects workers muscles, nerves and tendons. Work-related MSDs are among the leading causes of lost workday illnesses and injuries. Affected areas include the neck, upper extremities, and lower back. Workers can be exposed to risk factors such as when lifting heavy items, reaching overhead, bending, pulling and pushing heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and when performing the same or similar repetitive tasks. These known risk factors increase the possibility of injury.
However, work-related MSDs CAN be prevented. Ergonomics (fitting a job to a person) help lessen these risks. Ergonomics can help lessen muscle fatigue and increase productivity as well as reducing the number and severity of work-related MSDs.
IMPACT OF MSDS IN THE WORKPLACE
In 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the highest MSD rates among industries are transportation, health care, transportation, warehousing, retail and wholesale trade, and construction.
According to BLS, the 386,820 MSD cases reported in 2011 accounted for 33% of all worker injury and illness cases.
A PROCESS FOR PROTECTING WORKERS
It is the employer responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. Using ergonomic principles, the number and severity of MSDs as well as the associated costs can be substantially reduced.
Implementing an ergonomic program has been beneficial in reducing the risk of developing MSDs in many different types of industries such as food processing, office jobs, construction, healthcare, and beverage warehousing and delivery.
Provide Management Support
Critical to the success of the ergonomic process is a strong commitment of management. Management must define clear goals and objectives for the process, have discussions with the workers, designate responsibilities to key staff members and communicate clearly with all employees.
When workers are directly involved in worksite assessments, solution development and implementation of the ergonomic process, the process is much more likely to be successful. Training is essential in this process and the workers themselves can provide much of the needed training. Participating in the training and implementation insures that workers are aware of the ergonomic process and its benefit, become informed about concerns in the workplace, and understand the importance of reporting early symptoms of MSDs. Workers are an essential part of the process by identifying and providing important information regarding hazards in the workplace. They can assist in the process by voicing their concerns and make suggestions for reducing exposure to these risk factors. The employees can then evaluate the changes made after the ergonomic progress is implemented.
Key to the ergonomic process is to identify and assess problems in the workplace before they result in MSDs.
Encourage Early Reporting of MSD symptoms
Early reporting of potential injury or illness related to MSDs is crucial in the job assessment and solution process, helping to prevent or reduce the progression of the symptoms, the development of serious injuries, and reduce lost time incidents.
Implement Solutions to Control Hazards
Brainstorm with the workers and supervisors the possible solutions that can be implemented to control, reduce or eliminate workplace MSDs.
Evaluation and corrective action procedures must be in place to assess the effectiveness of the ergonomic process and to insure continuous improvement. As the process is first being implemented, assessments should determine whether goals set for the ergonomic process have been met and any changes that need to be made. Continuous assessments will need to be conducted to determine the success of the implementation of the process.
NECK AND INDOORS
Avoid twisting and bending the neck for extended times while working
Avoid lifting above the shoulder level
Avoid excessive reaching when feasible
Reduce repetitive movements
Keep back straight when lifting on in bent positions. Back Supports can help.
Ask for help with excessive weight items
Always have assistance with large or awkward-shaped objects
Stand and stretch after being seated for an extended time
Use caution when performing repetitive movements such as bending, pushing, pulling, and lifting
ARMS AND WRISTS
Avoid excessive extension and flexion of wrist more than 15 to 20 degrees
Keep elbows away from the body while performing tasks
Avoid contact to wrist and forearms
Use the proper type glove with vibration tools
Be aware and use caution with repetitive movements
HANDS AND FINGERS
Determine and use correct tools for the specific task
Use gloves when working with vibrating tools
Avoid excessive pressure on the fingers and palms
Avoid blows to the hand
Avoid awkward positions
Keep hands warm during cold temperatures
Be cautious with repetitive movements
LEGS AND FEET
Avoid chairs that restrict circulation of compressing the knee and hip joints
Use caution on any floors that do not adjust
Avoid heavy contact stress with the workstation
Avoid standing on hard floors for extended periods of time
Use caution on slippery or uneven floors
Use caution with repetitive movements
Use hearing protection in areas of excessive noise
Use proper lighting
Avoid excessive temperatures
Always check and maintain proper equipment
Make sure to have the proper training for each task
|Texas America Safety Company
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