Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)
Ergonomics is the science of work. Ergonomists look at anatomy and body mechanics for an understanding of how the human body operates. Workplaces designed using ergonomic principles enhance the abilities of employees to work more productively.
The human musculoskeletal system is comprised of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage and spinal discs. Injuries or health conditions related to parts of the musculoskeletal system are known as Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs). Although ergonomic principles are used at the workplace to address a variety of specific hazards, the main concern is job motions that cause MSDs. Some common workplace causes of MSDs include bad or awkward posture, using excessive force to move objects, repetitive or prolonged actions and localizing pressure on body surfaces.
Some ways to mitigate these risk factors include:
- Change work methods to maintain a neutral posture;
- Periodically change body positions throughout the day;
- Carry fewer objects at a time;
- Use mechanical devices to lift heavy objects;
- Use proper lifting techniques;
- Do not bend or twist at the waist when lifting any object;
- Use power tools over hand tools when reasonably possible;
- Rotate tasks throughout the work shift, when possible; and,
- Choose tool handles with rounded edges.
Your body can recover between episodes of intense activity in early stages of MSDs. However, over time, recovery will take longer and longer. Taking precautions to avoid the causes of MSDs will reduce or eliminate symptoms in the future.