Safety Check: Ergonomics, Workstation Organization, Injury Prevention, and Safe Lifting Techniques Part II

Watch Your Back!
This is the second column in a two-part series on ergonomics and related injuries with tips on better workstation organization and safe lifting techniques.

In the last article we discussed ergonomic assessments. If you find that workplace tasks involve physical activities that increase the risk for Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs), it would be beneficial to reduce those risks. This is especially important when those risks take place during a majority of the work shifts. Frequency and repetition of an action lead to greater risk of MSDs.

Activities that increase the risks of MSDs:

• Frequent manual material handling

• Exposure to extreme temperatures

• Exposure to excessive vibrations

• Repetitive motions throughout the work shift

• Awkward or stationary work positions

• Utilization of excessive force or localized pressure to perform tasks

• Unnecessary lifting of heavy and awkward items

• Improperly padded or adjusted seating

• Pounding

• Twisting

• Squatting

• Bending

• Improper skeletal alignment

• Eye strain

• Stretching

• Standing long periods or on hard surfaces

Reducing these hazards or risks can be completed through administrative controls, engineering controls and the use of personal protective equipment.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), provides the following recommendations:

Engineering Controls:

Rearranging, modifying, redesigning, providing or replacing tools, equipment, workstations, packaging, parts, processes, products, or materials.

Administrative Controls:               

• Alternate heavy tasks with light tasks.

• Provide variety in jobs to eliminate or reduce repetition.

• Adjust work schedules, work pace, or work practices.

• Provide recovery time.

• Modify work practices so that workers perform work within their power zone.

• Rotate workers through jobs that use different muscles, body parts, or postures.


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