Musculoskeletal injuries are a major hazard in the American workplace. They typically occur because of repetitive stress or cumulative trauma. These injuries cost the workers’ compensation system hundreds of millions of dollars every year, although they are entirely preventable.
Employers can play a key role in reducing musculoskeletal injuries by remaining mindful of the risks involved in certain workplace tasks.
Common risk factors for musculoskeletal injuries include using the wrong posture to perform an activity, using awkward postures, performing overhead work for a prolonged period of time, twisting and bending frequently, stooping and carrying heavy loads.
Workers who may have to twist their wrists to perform their tasks properly may suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome also can result from contact stress, in which one set of muscles frequently comes into contact with a hard object or surface.
Poor shoulder or wrist position and body vibration while using power tools and equipment can also contribute to musculoskeletal injuries.
The use of mechanical devices to help handle, carry and load of objects can reduce such injuries. Conveyor systems can perform much of the lifting and carrying that expose workers to injuries.
Tools and equipment must be carefully selected to avoid the risk of repetitive stress to muscles. Workers also need frequent breaks, and their schedules should be designed to reduce the chances of musculoskeletal injury.
Michael Parsons is an Atlanta workers’ compensation lawyer, representing injured workers in the metro Atlanta region and helping them recover the workers’ compensation benefits that they have earned.