Workers spend an average of 2.5 hours a day at work sorting e-mails. Compound that with an hour a day of watching television and several more hours reading news updates and watching video on your smartphone and it amounts to an average of eight hours per day of staring at screens, according to a study conducted by the Council for Research Excellence.Read More
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Did you know that within a three-month period 25 percent of adults suffer at least one day of back pain? According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), most adults experience their first episodes of low back pain in their 30s and as people age back pain becomes more common.Read More
Female workers are more than twice as likely as their male counterparts to suffer ergonomics-related injuries on the job, particularly when not enough attention has been paid to the design of work, equipment, workstations and environment.
Ronald Porter, a physical therapist and ergonomics expert and director of the Back School of Atlanta, says some female-dominated professions, such as healthcare, require moving heavy loads and adopting awkward working positions.
Women are also more likely than men to be performing work that involves repetitive tasks, working at workstations and using tools that were designed for men.
Porter, who addressed the recent American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Professional Development Conference in Baltimore, noted that women represent 46 percent of the US workforce, but report 63 percent of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that result in lost work time.
Factors that put women at greater risk for MSDs include:
“Being overweight can contribute to back pain by increasing the wear and damage to joints, causing irritation, pain and reduced activity,” says Porter. “This lack of activity can cause further weight gain.”
Porter noted that other factors that put women at higher risk for MSDS include:
He says avoiding or limiting strenuous work, work requiring balance, lifting of more than 50 pounds, prolonged sitting or standing, temperature extremes and providing adjustable workstations can help women avoid work-related MSDs.
“Many work areas were designed by men for men. Forty-six percent of our workforce is female. The best place to apply ergonomics principles is during design, not after the issue becomes a problem,” says Porter. “It is must cheaper to build it correctly in the first place than to retrofit.”
PPE for women that will protect them from contract stress can also greatly reduce the chances of an ergonomic-related injury. Such PPE includes floor mats for workers who must stand a lot, shoe inserts and anti-vibration gloves.
Education in neutral postures, correct body mechanics and provision of “ergo breaks” can significantly reduce MSD risk factors for women.
“Instructing supervisors and perhaps even employees to recognize early warning signs of MSDs and how to apply correct first aid can be invaluable in the management process,” says Porter. “Developing appropriately modified or restricted duty jobs or tasks can speed recovery and decrease the likelihood of re-injury upon return to work.”Read More
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) proposed ergonomic rule died years ago with the election of President George W. Bush, but the US Chamber of Commerce is concerned that the Obama administration may resurrect it.
A report in ProPublica, a non-profit investigative journalism group, states that the US Chamber of Commerce is concerned that OSHA is considering requiring US employers to identify workplace injuries involving musculoskeletal disorders.
Such disorders are caused by repetitive stress or strain, such as heavy lifting or forceful or awkward motions. OSHA is considering adding a column to its injury reporting form in which musculoskeletal disorders would need to be disclosed.
The US Chamber believes that the proposed change is just a first step toward OSHA bringing in an ergonomic standard that would cost employers millions of dollars.Read More
SAFE Work Manitoba has some advice for supervisors to help them reduce the incidence of musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) among their workers.
Consider these tips:
Editor’s Note: Share this safety talk with your workers.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
If your job involves repeated motion or vibration to the hands, carpal tunnel syndrome could creep up on you. It tends to occur in carpentry, cashiering and assembly line work, but it can also occur in many other kinds of work.
WHAT’S THE DANGER
Carpal tunnel syndrome affects the hands and wrists, and can result in permanent disability. It is one of the most common of the on-the-job injuries that build up gradually over a period of time. The carpal tunnel is the name of a little channel running through the middle of the wrist, carrying tendons and a major nerve. When the hand or wrist is subjected to repetitive work, impact or vibration, tissues swell. This squeezes the nerve and tendons and causes problems with the hands and fingers.
An electronics assembly worker began to notice a tingling feeling, numbness and clumsiness in his hands. After awhile, the tingling became a continual burning pain. Eventually, the pain became so bad and the hand so weak that it couldn’t grasp objects.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Carpal tunnel syndrome is much easier to prevent than cure. Here are some tips:
Find comfortable positions
Work with your wrist straight, not turned at an angle. Adjust your workstation and tools so you can work with your wrists and hands in a comfortable and neutral position. Whenever possible, grip tools and materials with your whole hand. Tools which extend only part of the way across the palm can contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Use the right tools
Take advantage of tools designed to allow you to keep your wrists in the correct position. Use other devices which help keep wrists in the correct position, such as wrist rests (for keyboards) and wrist braces.
Remember never to pound with your hands. Also try to avoid continuous vibration to your hands. Special padding on tools and equipment helps reduce vibration.
Switch tasks to give your hands a break. Don’t repeat the same motion hour after hour. Do flexibility and strength exercises for your hands, wrists and arms.
Seek help if needed
Seek medical help if you think you might be developing carpal tunnel syndrome. Treatment can include rest, therapy, splints, medicine and surgery.
Don’t wait for this problem to go away on its own. If it becomes worse, it will be more difficult to treat.
Odds of winning the lottery 1 in 135,145,920 (multi-state, mega-millions jackpot)
Your odds of suffering a repetitive strain injury (musculoskeletal disorder) serious enough to limit normal activities in a given year: 1 in 10 (Statistics Canada)
1: Repetitive strain injuries are the number 1 most common and costly occupational health problem in the US. (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)
4: RSIs affect four different parts of the body: muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves.
6: Types of musculoskeletal disorders include these 6 conditions: low back strain, neck strain, tendonitis, rotator cuff syndrome, tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome.
7. Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants have more than 7 times the rate of musculoskeletal disorders than the average for all occupations. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
29: Musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 29 percent of all workplace injuries requiring time away from work in 2007. (US Bureau of Labor Statistics)
50: More than 50 percent of food cashiers suffer some degree of carpal tunnel syndrome or another type of repetitive strain injury as a result of constantly and quickly scanning grocery items. (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health)Read More
Most people remember mom’s advice about sitting up straight to avoid back problems, but a new study suggests doing so may actually cause back problems.
Researchers at Woodend Hospital in Aberdeen, Scotland, studied 22 volunteers who had no history of back problems.
They used a positional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner (which allows patients to move while undergoing scans) to see how different sitting positions stressed the back. Scientists also measured spinal angles and spinal disc height and disc movement while volunteers hunched forward, sat ramrod straight or sat in a slightly backward reclining position at 135 degrees while their feet remained on the floor.
The slightly backward reclining position caused the least back strain and the least disc movement, while the 90-degree upright position caused the most disc movement.
“A 135-degree body-thigh sitting posture was demonstrated to be the best biomechanical sitting position, as opposed to a 90-degree posture, which most people consider normal,” said study co-author Waseem Amir Bashir, clinical fellow in the Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
Bashir said the strain put on the spine and its associated ligaments over time can lead to pain, deformity and chronic illness, so it makes good sense to sit in the correct position.
Bottom line: If the chairs you are using at home or work keep you in a ramrod-straight position and you sit in them for hours at a time, perhaps it’s best to invest in chairs that allow you to recline slightly.
The cost of preventing back pain through the use of properly designed chairs is likely much lower than having employees take days or weeks off work because of back pain, noted Bashir.
Info to go: Read more about preventing back injuries by following the link provided on www.SafeSupervisor.com
Look at the following risk factors and try to determine what condition they pertain to. Hint: it’s the most common and costly occupational health problem, costing more than $20 billion per year in workers’ compensation in the US alone.
What are we talking about? Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDSs). Another risk factor, which we couldn’t list above or it would have given the answer away, is a history of musculoskeletal disorders, such as intermittent back pain.
Work-related risk factors for MSDSs include:
Musculoskeletal disorders are any conditions affecting your workers’ muscles, tendons, bones, joints, ligaments, spinal discs, cartilage and connective tissue. Physiotherapist Michael Eisenhart, an injury prevention consultant with Pro-Activity Injury Prevention Specialists in New Jersey, says employees need to be made aware of the lifestyle choices and work-related risk factors for MSDSs.
Armed with that information and strategies for becoming stronger, fitter and better balanced, he says workers can take action to turn a painful situation around.
According to Eisenhart, if musculoskeletal pain becomes severe, approaching seven on a scale of one to 10, it puts a worker at increased risk for other types of workplace injury, because no one can concentrate and stay focused through that intensity of pain.
Given the considerable costs associated with having workers absent because of MSDSs, it makes sense to bring in an expert to talk to your workers about how lifestyle improvements and different approaches to working can reduce symptoms. One of the quickest means of reducing these risks is to use exercises, including stretching, to increase a worker’s flexibility.
“The business case for wellness is very strong,” says Eisenhart.Read More
Efforts by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to reduce injuries among US airport screeners seem to have paid off – with the injury rate dropping from 29 per 100 employees in 2005 to 16 per 100 employees in 2006. In 2004 the figure was 36 per 100 workers.
Among improvements introduced by the TSA were installation of rollers and bag hoisters to reduce the need for screeners to lift heavy bags, often in awkward positions, and bringing injured workers back to work sooner on light duty tasks, such as checking passengers’ boarding passes.
Screeners have also watched training videos on safe lifting techniques. According to the TSA, injuries that kept airport screeners off the job in fiscal 2006 cost taxpayers $58 million.
Info to go: Read more on proper lifting techniques by clicking on the link at www.SafeSupervisor.comRead More