Musculoskeletal disorders have over the years become a major challenge among the working class citizens and organizations alike in the USA. The problem associated with them is that they have increased in occurrence and they are becoming more expensive to treat. According to reports Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), MSDs make up for the biggest percentage of workplace-related injuries.
To put this into perspective, they contribute to about 30% of the compensation costs made to workers in an organization. On the other hand, a report by Occupations Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reveals that the indirect costs associated with MSDs can go as high as five times those of direct costs.
By definition, musculoskeletal disorders relate to pathological injuries associated with the locomotor system. This system entails parts such as muscles, joints, bones, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Common symptoms include persistent pains in the said parts of the body. In extreme cases, these disorders may cause the patient to suffer permanent disability.
Therefore, based on all these challenges involved, organizations have been trying to come up with alternative interventions to minimize and manage world-related MSDs. This article seeks to provide a guide on how companies can go about achieving this objective.
What Causes Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)
On the issue of symptoms, the World Health Organization (WHO) categorizes MSDs into acute and chronic injuries. Acute injuries relate to those that have occurred in the current period and may require you to see a healthcare professional. Chronic injuries, on the other hand, occur gradually over an extended period of time resulting in niggling pain and discomfort in your body. In all of these cases, it is advisable to see a qualified specialist such as Nassau Injury Doctor examine the extent of your injuries. Common symptoms of MSDs include:
· Excessive fatigue
· Burning sensation on the affected area
From a general perspective, MSDs can be classified as part of workplace-related injuries. As such, they are caused by the activities that workers perform in an organization. Such operations include bending, pulling, lifting, pushing, and continuous movements. These daily activities cause wear and tear of your muscles, nerves, or tendon tissues, which results in these disorders. It is important to note that this condition is not limited to workers that engage in heavy tasks within the organization.
Simple operations such as longer periods of immobilization, repeated movements, and strains associated with posture can also lead to these disorders. In other cases, work-related injuries such as falls, sprains, fractures, and dislocations can also contribute to musculoskeletal pain.
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Workplace Management of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)
For an effective management program, it is important for both the employer and employee to understand the challenges associated with musculoskeletal disorders. Therefore, developing a sound preventative strategy will require them to identify the key risk factors of MSDs in an organization. The common ones include:
· Unnatural or fixed body postures
· Consistent repetitive movements
· High work paces
· Monotonous jobs
· Force that is strenuous on certain parts of the body
These risk factors can be counteracted by organizations implementing certain measures as discussed below:
Instituting Engineering Controls
This basically entails coming up with better designs and strategies on how tasks are performed within an organization. Key among these changes include automation of most tasks within the organization. For example, the use of forklifts to lift objects in a warehouse. Another of these changes is implementing a more suitable workplace layout. This helps address the risk factor of repeated movements and constrained body postures.\
This is all about making changes to management policies and practices on how jobs are performed within an organization. Some of the changes that can be implemented include: minimizing the length of work shifts, introducing more breaks between work schedules, employee training on MSDs risk factors, and increasing the rate of job rotations.
Utilizing Protective Gear
Encouraging the use of relevant work gear helps minimize exposure to the risk factors. For example, wearing safety shoes may help minimize the possibility of tripping and falling. As such, organizations provide and make it a policy that all workers should wear their respective work gear.
Based on this analysis, it is evident that musculoskeletal disorders are a challenge to both employers and employees. However, with an effective management program, the risk factors of MSDs can be minimized.