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Using Total Worker Health® Concepts to Reduce the Health Risks from Sedentary Work

U.S. workplaces have become increasingly sedentary, with resulting negative health effects. Through its Total Worker Health® Program, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends an integrated approach to addressing sedentary work environments. An integrated approach is one that protects workers from work-related injury and illness and helps them advance their overall health and well-being, on and off the job. This document describes organizational practices that can reduce the risks associated with sedentary work.

Using Total Worker Health® Concepts to Reduce the Health Risks from Sedentary Work[PDF – 891 KB]

 

Massage for Low Back Pain

The most recent Cochrane review of randomized control trials (RCT) involving relief of low back pain using massage was published in 2015. The review examined 25 RCT and found that massage was better than inactivity in the short term for pain relief. They also found that massage was better than active controls in the short and long term for pain relief. Read the full review at the link below.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD001929.pub3/epdf
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Most Common Musculoskeletal Disorders:

Musculoskeletal disorders in the form of overexertion caused sprain and strain injuries along with repetitive motion injuries were responsible for costing employers over $16 billion in 2013 and accounted for 27% of all reported injuries. Some of the most common MSDs include:

  • Epicondylitis
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Low Back Pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Ligament Sprain
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Muscle Strain
  • Plantar fasciitis

These disorders typically occur over a period of time and may have some noticeable signs and symptoms before they progress to a chronic condition. The typical progression may include the following steps:

  • Exposure to risk factor (overexertion/repetitive motion)
  • Fatigue of the exposed anatomy and limited recovery time
  • Soft tissues reach the limit of sustaining the outside forces
  • Ache or discomfort progresses to a chronic condition

Prevention and early recognition, and quick, appropriate intervention can stop the progression of these disorders to costly conditions. Some steps to take include:

  • Adjust the job to the worker
  • Decrease common motions known to cause injury
  • Educate employees how to recognize MSDs
  • Implement an on-site solution for addressing early signs of MSDs

Overexertion: The Real Issue

If you hadn’t read this title and someone asked you, “What is the top cause of musculoskeletal injury in the workplace?” what would your reply be? Chances are you would have said repetitive motion injuries.

Overexertion injuries top the list of workplace related musculoskeletal disorders reported in 2016 in regards to the data from the 2013 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For comparison, in 1998 the Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index reported from the BLS overexertion injury cost approximately $9.8 billion dollars. For 2013 they reported an estimated cost of $15 billion dollars. Compared to the estimate for repetitive motion injuries costing approximately $1.8 billion dollars in 2013.

There are differences in the two terms and how injuries are classified and recorded. Repetitive motion injuries are just that, injuries caused by repeatedly performing a specific motion as a part of a task. The term doesn’t necessarily take in to account force applied to the motion, but it is thought that continuous use causes excessive strain on the tissues leading to swelling and ultimately pain or neurologic symptoms. Read more

Workplace Ergonomics

One of the simplest things employees can do to help prevent injuries is also one of the most important. That one thing is workplace ergonomics. Workplace ergonomics in used in most contexts as it relates to the position of a person sitting at their desk. While this is true, it does not stop in the office. Ergonomics is a science that deals with the design and arrangement of the things people use at work to make the work easier and/or safer. Read more

Can Temperature Have An Effect on Musculoskeletal Complaints?

European researchers studied the effects of environmental and psychosocial factors and their relationship with musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). The survey was conducted among hospital workers in the UK and they looked at responses relating MSDs to temperature, anxiety, depression, light and noise, and job demand. The most interesting finding from the study was that MSDs of the upper extremity were strongly related to job strain and temperature.

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Warming Up Before Activity

Warming up before activity is important, especially for those performing strenuous or repetitive jobs.

We have all heard about stretching before or after activity, or as a way to break up repetitive tasks, but should we warm-up? Warming up has been shown to be effective in helping reduce overexertion which can cause sprains and strains of the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Warming up does this by: Read more

Musculoskeletal Disorders and Workplace Factors – A Critical Review of Epidemiologic Evidence for Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Neck, Upper Extremity, and Low Back

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) were recognized as having occupational etiologic factors as early as the beginning of the 18th century. However, it was not until the 1970’s that occupational factors were examined using epidemiologic methods, and the work-relatedness of these conditions began appearing regularly in the international scientific literature. Since then Read more

What are Sprains and Strains?

Sprains and strains are injuries to tissue typically attributed to overexertion or traumatic type injuries. The names differ due to the type of tissue involved in the injury.

A sprain is an injury involving a ligament. Ligaments are tough connective tissue bands that connect bone to bone. These tissues hold the joints together throughout the body. The most common, and the one people are most familiar with is an ankle sprain.

A strain is an injury involving the muscle or tendon. The muscle is the contractile portion responsible for creating motion. The tendon is the terminal fibrous component of the muscle, which attaches it to the bone. Most commonly and familiar is a strain of the low back. Read more