Injuries and Illness

Are Lifelong Ergonomic Injuries Developing Now at Your Workplace?

Ergonomic injury can take 10 years to show up, and then last for life. Here are methods to stop its development long before symptoms appear.

Are you lucky enough to have a 2-year old at home?

If so, have you, like many parents, bought your youngster one of those cute little baby computers, so he or she can, even at that early age, begin learning to function in the ‘Technology Century’?

If so, beware, says Professor Alan Hedge, director of the Cornell University Human Factors and Ergonomics Research Group. Unless the computer is ergonomically designed, your youngster could be on the way to a lifelong musculoskeletal disorder by the time he or she reaches adulthood.

You won’t know about it right away, Hedge says. The effects of these injuries take 10 to 15 years to show up, but the damage is done right from the start. “This is very serious,” he adds. “An injury can become life-changing. Carpal tunnel, for example, is not curable. They’ll have to manage this chronic condition for the rest of their lives.”

Can your managers and supervisors detect the causes of 25 different real-life accidents, each in a different safety area, direct from OSHA records? Find out, and have them learn hazard analysis while they’re at it, with BLR’s OSHA Accident Case Studies program. There is a separate PowerPoint for each case. Try it at no cost and no risk. Click for info.

Of course, in the workplace, you’re managing adults. But, under OSHA’s general duty clause and simple good practices, there is still a responsibility to detect and fix the conditions that can lead to later ergonomic disorders.

We get some clues for doing so from Vince McLeod, CIH and Glenn Ketchum, CIH, known as “The Safety Guys”, writing on the veterinary sciences website, Their advice includes:

  • Look for documentary patterns of ergonomic problems in your operation. These can include higher than normal workers’ comp claims, high rates of turnover, and frequent employee complaints of bodily aches or soreness.
  • Video suspect worksites and work in progress. You’re looking for ergonomically damaging ways of working. These include improper posture, constant twisting, turning and reaching, and having to remain in awkward positions for long periods of time. Pay attention to such factors as weight lifted or force applied to do a job, temperature extremes, and high levels of vibration, as well.
  • Solutions to the above problems can include modifying the load on the body by reducing weight needed to be carried (Move two lighter boxes in place of one heavier, for example), repositioning the work or worker, mechanical aids such as pallet jacks and power tools, and job rotation, in which workers trade tasks periodically. Even alternating hands on a task can help.
  • “One should try to achieve a ‘neutral and balanced’ position” in any work process, explain the Safety Guys. “Neutral is typically thought of as the midpoint of motion for most joints … and balanced means whatever is being worked on or moved does not have to fight gravity to maintain a position.”

    Solve the Case

    Of course, to implement this detect and fix scheme, you need to train your managers and supervisors in hazard detection. To this end, we would suggest the BLR PowerPoint program, OSHA Accident Case Studies, and particularly the PowerPoint called, “The Case of the Ruptured Tendon,” included in the program.

    Try BLR’s unique OSHA Accident Case Studies PowerPoint program at no cost or risk. Click for more info.

    It’s one of 25 separate PowerPoints that asks viewers to look at actual hazard situations, drawn from real-life OSHA files (We even give you the OSHA case numbers.). They then determine the cause from the clues, “CSI-detective” style, and suggest the fix. Some of the other 24 “cases” presented in this unique program include:

    “The Case of the Unknown Chemical” (Hazcom)
    “The Case of the Jammed Machine” (lockout/tagout)
    “The Case of the Heavy Boxes” (back safety)
    “The Case of the Overturned Forklift” (forklift training)

    Each case is backed up with speaker’s notes, a handout, a quiz, and a plain-English analysis of the relevant OSHA regulation. And like all PowerPoints, each is easily customized with your own organization’s logo, policy points, even photos. The end result is nearly a half-year’s worth of ready-made safety meeting material, in a dramatic, highly motivational, and memorable format, and for less than $20 a meeting.

    You can try this unique program at no cost or risk (not even return shipping) for up to 30 days in your own workplace without obligation to buy it. To do so, simply click here and we’ll send it to you.

    Download topic list
    Download multiple slide sample
    Download speaker’s notes sample