MSDs or musculoskeletal disorders can cause significant harm to workers by affecting their muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and other soft tissues. Such conditions are commonly attributed to several factors and impact employee well-being drastically. This post aims to explain the role of MSDs in the workplace, identify the types of MSDs that exist, and analyze their causes and effects before providing solutions on how to prevent them.
What is MSD in the Workplace?
In the workplace, an MSD refers to injuries or disorders that harm the musculoskeletal system. This includes muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, and joints. These issues can arise from repetitive motions, forceful exertions, awkward postures or other physical stresses faced by employees during work. Any part of the body can be affected too, such as the back, neck shoulders, arms, hands, and legs.
Types of MSD in the Workplace
- Lower Back Pain:
Lower back pain is a widespread type of MSD that often occurs due to sitting for long periods, lifting heavy objects, or maintaining poor posture. Employees who spend most of their work hours seated might encounter muscle imbalances and lower back discomfort. Encouraging regular breaks, incorporating stretching exercises and movements throughout the day, and making use of ergonomic chairs and adjustable workstations could aid in proper posture maintenance by minimizing strain on the lower back.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:
Repetitive hand movements, such as typing or using vibrating tools, can lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a condition that causes pain, numbness, and tingling in the hands and wrists. The median nerve in the wrist is under pressure due to these motions. Employers can help prevent this syndrome by providing ergonomic keyboards and mice that promote neutral wrist positions. Taking regular breaks and performing stretching exercises for the hands and wrists can also reduce strain symptoms.
Inflammation of the tendons, known as tendonitis, can result from repetitive motions or overuse of specific muscle groups. Everyday activities like assembly line work and continuous typing can lead to this condition. Employers can prevent its onset by providing ergonomic equipment that minimizes the strain on targeted muscles. Furthermore, implementing job rotation or task variation will offer relief from repetitive stress injuries and movement patterns.
- Rotator Cuff Injury:
Frequent overhead movements in certain jobs like painting, construction, and sports that involve repetitive arm motions can lead to injuries in the rotator cuff. This group of muscles and tendons surrounds the shoulder joint. Employers must provide their workers with proper training on safe lifting techniques, using appropriate equipment and maintaining good posture during overhead tasks such as these. To prevent injuries related to rotator cuffs, incorporating job-specific exercises that target shoulder stability and strength is helpful.
- Neck and Shoulder Strain:
Poor ergonomics can cause neck and shoulder strain due to improper workstation setup or prolonged use of handheld devices. Sitting awkwardly, hunching over desks, or constantly looking down at screens can all put stress on the neck and shoulder muscles. Employers can improve ergonomics by providing adjustable chairs, ergonomic keyboards, and monitors placed at eye level. Regular breaks and stretching exercises are also helpful in reducing strain on the neck and shoulders.
When employers take steps to address specific types of MSD and implement prevention measures, they can significantly reduce workplace-related injuries. This not only promotes a healthier and safer workplace for employees but also avoids costly damages.
Causes of MSD in the Workplace
- Engaging in repetitive movements without adequate breaks or proper ergonomic practices can put undue strain on muscles and tendons, potentially leading to the development of MSDs.
- When people lift, push, or pull heavy objects without using the right techniques or getting help, it can really strain their muscles and bones.
- Working in uncomfortable positions for long periods can harm the body due to increased stress, ultimately contributing to MSD.
- Regular exposure to vibrations from tools or machinery can lead to musculoskeletal disorders, such as hand-arm vibration syndrome. It’s important for those who work with vibrating equipment to take steps
- Poor ergonomics can lead to MSD (musculoskeletal disorders) caused by an inadequate workstation setup, improper seating, or a lack of ergonomic tools
Preventing MSD at Work
The workplace should prioritize preventing MSD to ensure employee health and well-being. Luckily, there are several solutions available for this issue.
- One can identify and tackle potential hazards like equipment or improper workstation setups by conducting ergonomic assessments.
- Employees should undergo proper training to adopt correct lifting techniques, adhere to ergonomic practices, and understand the value of taking breaks. This would help them avoid overexertion-related injuries and perform their duties efficiently.
- To promote good posture while working, it’s important to modify workstations. This can include using ergonomic chairs, adjustable desks, and placing monitors at the appropriate height for optimal usage.
- Encourage employees to take frequent breaks throughout the workday and engage in stretching exercises to relieve muscle tension and combat fatigue. This simple practice can improve overall productivity and ensure team members stay energized and focused.
- To minimize prolonged exposure to repetitive tasks and reduce the risk of MSD, job rotation or task variation should be implemented. By rotating jobs or varying tasks, employees can avoid continuously performing repetitive movements and develop new skills that
- To improve workplace culture and communication, encourage open channels of communication for discomfort or any MSD symptoms. This will allow employees to seek timely assistance and address their issues confidently.
Implementing these prevention strategies can significantly reduce the risk of MSD and create a safer, healthier work environment for employees. Employers who prioritize workplace safety will benefit from adopting these methods. Reach out to BHS today to learn how to support a safe and healthy workplace.