Reducing YOUR Risk of Ergonomic Injuries in the Workplace
How to Protect You and Your Workers
To reduce your risk of incurring an ergonomic related injury, it’s important to ensure that the work task fits your employee, & not the other way around. Here are some ways you can do that:
Have your employees adjust their workstation: Recommend raising or lowering a chair, changing the level of their work bench or obtaining a platform to stand on. Adjusting the angle of a drafting board or re-positioning a computer screen can greatly improve comfort and performance. You can also rearrange lighting to reduce their urge to lean forward.
Provide tools & accessories: Adding longer, padded or angled handles to tools can lessen repetitive strain. Use items that are designed to keep their hands, arms and back in a comfortable, natural position while they work. Avoid handles that cut into the hand.
Recommend rearranging their work area: Have employees place work materials where they can reach them without excessive stretching, twisting or bending. Have them avoid arrangements where they have to lean forward and reach at an angle. Store materials on a shelf rather than on the floor to minimize lifting.
Take a break: Enable your employees to organize their work so it allows them to switch from one task to another easily. This will help avoid back strain and repetitive strain. Have them take advantage of scheduled breaks to stretch and move around.
Be aware: Pay attention to how your employees feel while they are working. Make adjustments in their work area to prevent muscle strain.
Know the signs: Symptoms of ergonomic-related injuries often begin as minor complaints of discomfort, stiffness or aches that disappear when they go home at the end of their shift. However, if your employees continue to perform the same task the same way, the body’s ability to recover decreases and eventually the discomfort turns into a more serious condition. It’s important to recognize the early symptoms of a problem and address the issue before a more serious injury occurs. Some of these symptoms can be:
Pain, tingling or numbness in hands or feet
Pain in the wrists, shoulders, forearms or knees
Back or neck pain
Swelling or inflammation
Shooting or stabbing pains in the arms or legs
Fingers or toes turning white
What’s At Stake?
One size does NOT fit all when it comes to work equipment. Whenever one of your workers has to modify or adjust himself/or herself to perform a work task, sudden changes can cause stress and strain on the body.
What’s The Danger?
If the task needs to be performed only occasionally, it doesn’t typically become a problem. But the strain of performing a task repetitively during one work shift or over a period of days, weeks, months and sometimes years can cause chronic ergonomic-related injuries and illnesses that can become serious, requiring time off work or even surgery.
Injuries and illnesses that result from ergonomic problems include musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) or repetitive stress injuries (RSIs). Here are some of the common diagnoses:
Muscles strains and tears
Joint or tendon inflammation
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Rotator cuff syndrome
Herniated spinal disk
Low back pain
Hand-arm vibration syndrome
Nobody knows your employees job better than they do. Empower them to speak up if they have an idea on how their work or workstation could be made better from an ergonomic point of view. Most carriers offer an ergonomic review at no cost to you. Take advantage of their expertise. For more information on Safety and Loss Control for your company contact Granite Insurance Brokers today!
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