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:
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Low Back Pain
- 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
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
Click the link to read an interesting NIOSH science blog post regarding carpal tunnel syndrome among poultry workers.
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
To date, there is little information to assist people interested in purchasing alternative keyboards. While the scientific evidence about whether alternative keyboards prevent musculoskeletal disorders is inconclusive at this time, this document provides basic information about common alternative keyboard designs and their effects on work posture.