Musculoskeletal Disorders or MSDs are a variety of disorders and injuries that affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system. A very common example that many people have heard of is carpal tunnel syndrome.
Here are some MSD facts:
- When it comes to workplace injuries, MSDs are the number 1 reported problem, representing about 30$ of all worker’s compensation costs.
- In 2011, US companies spent $50 Billion on direct costs of MSDs.
- Indirect costs can be up to 5x the direct costs of MSDs
- On average, an MSD comes with a direct cost of $15,000
- Many, if not all, MSDs are actually preventable!
Here are 10 signs that you may need an exam for your MSD:
- High Task Repetition – The most common reason for MSDs to occur is from a repetitive task. When the body performs the same movements over and over again, there is a high chance of that movement causing an injury at some point. It is important to take breaks often, so your body has chances to relax.
- Forceful Exertions – Certain jobs will require a certain amount of exertion. However, when the exertion happens often and causes the body to forcefully move something, the chance of injury increases. An exam can help diagnose the specific problem, and work tools such as a pulley or cart can help decrease the force needed.
- Repetitive or Sustained Awkward Positions – Some job-related tasks will force an employee to move in an awkward way. Sometimes this can be from reaching for something or having to adjust the body in order to turn a switch.
- Lack of Job Rotation – Especially for highly repetitive jobs, it is crucial to rotate employees between stations to avoid the overuse of one muscle or set of muscles. The subtle switch between stations and jobs is often enough to prevent injury from overuse.
- Poorly Designed Station/Equipment – In addition to awkward positions, a common occurrence is a poorly designed workstation or piece of equipment. This is often not intentional but can have a drastic impact on an employee. Designers often come up with a concept that looks great but might not have the employees well being in mind. A desk that is too low or too high, a piece of equipment that is just out of reach, or a poorly designed factory station are just a few examples. A major way to fight against MSDs is through ergonomics, the practice of streamlining an activity so there is little impact on the body. This can often be as simple as moving an item, so it is closer and easier to use.
- Lack of Training – Unfortunately, many employers simply do not train their employees well enough on machines that can cause injury. It is important to make sure that you are fully trained on any equipment you will be using to avoid inadvertent injuries.
- Previously Injured Employees – If there is a long history of injured employees, don’t become another statistic! Get an exam and report the issues to the correct authority.
- Poor Management Communication – Poor management of employees can have a much larger impact than just a moral issue. Management failing to communicate about other issues, how to avoid them, and other best practices can be a huge cause for alarm.
- Standing or Sitting for too Long – Too much of either standing or sitting can have negative implications for different reasons. Whether standing or sitting, it is vital to take standardized breaks in order to give the body a break.
- Poor Health/Matching of Duties – Sometimes, even with an ergonomic station and proper breaks built in, people can still get injured. This can be due to poor health of an employee or simply a bad fit for the job at hand.
There are many ways that MSDs can occur, but it is important to recognize the potential warning signs and get an exam!