Have you or someone you know been affected by a Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorder (WMSD) in the workplace? According to a 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, WMSD cases accounted for 33% of all reported workplace injury and illness incidents.
WMSDs are caused from repeated traumas to muscles, ligaments, tendons, joints or bones. The most common risk factors consist of task repetition, strenuous work position, inadequate posture, excessive force and extended task duration. Some examples of WMSD injuries include back strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow and tendonitis. Implementing a workplace ergonomics program can significantly reduce employee WMSDs, and increase employee productivity and morale, which in turn increase company profitability. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has identified some basic steps for an effective workplace ergonomic program to include1:
Step 1: Identify the risk factors. Understand the workplace conditions and tasks that put employees at risk for a WMSD.
Step 2: Involve and train employees. Training enables managers, supervisors, and employees to identify the risk factors, recognize signs and symptoms of WMSDs, and implement strategies that reduce and prevent WMSDs. An effective program provides employees with an opportunity to discuss ergonomic problems and potential solutions.
Step 3: Collect health and medical evidence. Collect health and medical evidence of WMSDs to determine the scope and characteristics of potential ergonomic problem.
Step 4: Implement your ergonomic program. Begin by targeting easy to implement solutions that you identified in your earlier analyses. For example, purchasing ergonomically designed keyboards or office furniture.
Step 5: Evaluate your program. Conduct a follow-up evaluation to determine the effectiveness of implemented controls and ensure that no new WMSDs were created. Some ways to determine program effectiveness include monitoring employee absentee rates, assessing productivity indicators, and analyzing Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Form 300 logs.
Step 6: Promote musculoskeletal health in the workplace. Develop a return-to-work program to enable employees affected by WMSDs to return to work through restricted job duties or temporary job transfers. Encourage employees who report WMSDs to visit a qualified health provider.
Step 7: Maintain management commitment and employee involvement. Program support from company leaders and management level personnel is critical to the program’s success and promotes the company’s image of a healthy and safe work environment.
Alliance Solutions Group (ASG) established and implemented an internal ergonomics program for company employees to promote a safe and healthy work environment. Due to the success of the program, ASG has developed and released an office ergonomics workshop designed for commercial use.
This workshop provides ergonomics training and includes a comprehensive self-assessment checklist. ASG personally reviews each self-assessment to identify risk factors and provides a final report that includes recommendations to mitigate these risk factors.
To learn more about this workshop, contact ASG at (757) 223-7233 or enroll into the course by visiting https://asg-inc.teachable.com/.
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