Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) affect the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons. Office workers are often exposed to MSD risks in the workplace performing common activities such as bending, reaching overhead and lifting heavy items.  Even more frequently workers are performing daily tasks in awkward body positions and repetitively perform the same tasks day after day.  These seemingly common activities compound the potential of work related injuries.

Awkward body movements in daily activities are easily preventable.  Proper ergonomics (a person’s efficient activities in their working environment) decreases muscle fatigue, enhances productivity and reduces work related injuries.

Common Musculoskeletal Disorders Include:

  • Carpal tunnel in the hands writs and arms
  • Tendinitis
  • Arthritis
  • Epicondylitis (commonly known as tennis elbow)
  • Damage to the rotator cuff (shoulder)
  • Undo muscle and low back strain
  • Trigger finger (known as stenosing tenosynovitis)

The Impact of MSDs in the Workplace

  • MSDs in the workplace is the most frequent cause of lost or restricted work time
  • In 2013 the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 33% of all worker illness and injuries were due to MSDs

national-safety-council-logo.pngIn accordance with OSHA guidelines it is the responsibility of employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees.  It is also in the best interest of companies to provide safe and ergonomic conditions to mitigate excessive physical exertion, which can cause incidences of MSD.  MSD incidences can drive up the cost of healthcare, decrease productivity and crate a loss in work time.  However these issues can be significantly reduced by applying practical ergonomic principals to the work environment.

  • Establish Top Down Management Initiatives: Management’s commitment to a safe and ergonomically conducive workplace is essential to the process.
  • Provide Training: Make employees aware of specific ergonomics and the benefits.  Help them to become informed about the value of proper ergonomics in their work environment and the importance of reporting any MSD symptoms.
  • Involve Employees: Ask them to identify and provide feedback about hazardous and non-ergonomic conditions in their work area.
  • Implement Solutions: Using management’s assessments and employee feedback implement solutions to reduce, control or eliminate non-ergonomic conditions.
  • Evaluate Progress: Establish and regularly monitor an evaluation and corrective action program.  Make sure goals are set and monitor the progress of meeting those goals.

An effective workplace ergonomic program incorporates safety and health standards to address MSD hazards.  Avoid having this program be a one-time project.   Instead, this should be on ongoing function and be regularly monitored by management to ensure processes are incorporated into the company’s daily operations

Poor ergonomics can cause a variety of injuries and illnesses in the workplace that we often don’t think of.  Even headaches and back pain can lower a person’s concentration, enthusiasm and negatively affect their mood.  Any of these can cost the employee and employer time and money, including how well they do their job.  What may seem like common aches and pains can significantly lower productivity.

At HandyTube we are focused on the safety of office employees as much as our plant operations.  Our January Employee Health & Safety focus was Office Ergonomics.  We ensure our office is a place that suites the employee’s dynamic needs to manage their work in a timely and efficient manner.  Our offices combine lean concepts with an emphasis on safety.  We teach our employees to place the most used items on the dominant side of their body and change sitting postures to utilize various muscle groups. We provide sit/stand desktops and approved ergonomic furniture.  At HandyTube we understand and respect that no two employees are alike and therefore the work station must adapt to their specific needs to help prevent unnecessary Musculoskeletal Disorders.

HandyTube recognizes that our employees ensure the success of our businesses.  We ensure the health and safety or their work environment.

Rebecca N. Reimer, HandyTube EHS Manager