Ergonomic injuries can end up costing businesses billions of dollars .Lifting large objects, leaning, reaching overhead, lifting and dragging heavy loads, engaging in uncomfortable body postures, and continuing doing the same or similar activities will all subject employees to potential hazard factors at work.
These hazards can result in musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), which are injuries related to muscles, tendons, nerves, joints, spinal discs and cartilage. Work-related MSDs pose a great threat but they are avoidable. Ergonomics, or tailoring a job to a worker’s needs, decreases muscle exhaustion, boosts productivity, and lowers the amount and magnitude of work-related MS.
To mitigate this risk, you can also take OSHA 30 Construction, which will educate you on how to prevent workplace ergonomics while taking practical safety measures.
Workplace Ergonomic injuries: Lower Back Pain.
More than 80% of Americans will feel lower back pain at some stage in their life, according to reports from the University Of North Carolina School Of Medicine. Furthermore, it is estimated that over 31 million people in the United States alone suffer from lower back pain at any given time. Lower back pain is the most frequent ergonomic injury in today’s workplace, and it can cause considerable discomfort for workers as well as significant costs for employers. Indirect and direct workers’ compensation costs for a mild lower back injury total $9,200. Below is the list of actions employees can take to decrease their chances of lower back pain.
- Sit in front of your desk as you are able to safely. Place your palms on the surface of your desk with your upper arms parallel to your spine. Your knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle. If your elbows are lower than the surface of your bench, raise or lower the height of your chair so your arms form the proper angle.
- The armrests on a good chair should be positioned to gently raise your shoulders. Not only can this reduce the pressure on your upper back and elbows, but it will also make you less likely to slouch over.
- Shape a fist and put it between the back of your calf and the front of your chair, with your body against the backrest. If there isn’t enough room for your fist, the chair is too deep, and the backrest has to be moved over. If the back of the chair cannot be changed, a pillow or rolled-up towel should be used to provide low back support.
- Close your eyes for a few seconds while still sitting in your chair, and gently open them. When you open your eyes, direct your attention to your computer screen or the place where you will be searching for the rest of your work. If this region is not consistent with your resting eye position, or if you notice that your head is tilting either higher or lower, you will need to make adjustments.
Workplace Ergonomic injuries: Wrist Carpal Tunnel
Workplace Ergonomic injuries are prevalent and cost businesses $15 to $20 billion annually. However, this can be easily prevented by providing or taking site safety training courses like OSHA 30 training, as this course dispenses detailed knowledge on how to avoid workplace ergonomics.
Wrist accidents, including Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, can be mild to severe, and recovery can take months. A mild wrist injury, which affects 2 million Americans per year, would cost a business an average of $7,600 in direct and indirect workers’ compensation expenses. Below are the preventive measures for wrist carpal tunnel.
- Have your elbows at the same height as your keyboard.
- Place your keyboard in front of you.
- Position the keyboard for a close, 90-degree elbow alignment and place your forearms parallel to the surface.
- Place the cursor so that you can loosen your shoulders and hold your wrist in a neutral position.
- Sit with your back straight and your feet flat on the ground, rather than hunching over.
- To encourage movement, unlock the backrest of your chair.
Workplace Ergonomic injuries: Shoulder
The shoulder can be the most costly ergonomic injury at a workplace with the total direct and indirect workers’ compensation bills for a serious injury being more than $10,000. Shoulder and rotator cuff injuries are typical when bodies are forced to perform in an uncomfortable or unusual pose for a prolonged period of time, such as lifting or working overhead. Below is the list of preventive measures to take for workplace ergonomic injuries.
- When you sit or stand, maintain proper balance.
- Follow the lifting safety law. Maintain a straight back to use your knees.
- Every hour, take a couple of minutes to relax. Stretch and move back.
- Make sure your workstation is set up so that you can use your computer conveniently.
Workplace Ergonomic injuries: Neck
Neck pain and pain are likely to occur when a person is forced to keep their head in a non-neutral position for an extended amount of time. Many employees are unaware that actually holding screen displays below eye level or gazing overhead to complete a job assignment increases their chance of neck injury. The most costly workplace ergonomic injuries condition is a minor neck injury, with an overall cost of more than $20,000.
- A successful pre-shift stretching routine can improve circulation and muscle and tendon elasticity.
- Proper lifting exercises should be taught to team members in order to relieve tension on the head/neck.
- Team participants should also be qualified and encouraged to execute specific stretches to relieve tension and compression in the head and neck.
- Team members should be supported and empowered to maintain healthy practices and keep their bodies ready for work.
Understanding proper body mechanics and listening to the body as it gives warning signs that an injury is emerging are the keys to preventing workplace ergonomic injury. When an individual knows how to find a neutral working pose to prevent placing oneself in uncomfortable, ergonomically inappropriate situations, the likelihood of injury is significantly reduced. Furthermore, workers must learn to listen to their bodies and, when they feel distressed or in pain, they must change their behavior rather than pushing on.
Although pain can indicate that an injury has already arisen, recognizing when to seek medical attention for discomfort may significantly minimize the severity of the injury. Companies and employers must take workplace ergonomic injuries seriously. Companies should have designated employees to research workplace ergonomic injuries and to take notes from all working employees to improve the ergonomics. Employers must make sure that their employees have OSHA training so they can stay safe and healthy at workspaces.