An industrial injury is a repetitive or specific work-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) or an injury where pain interferes with normal work activities or daily living activities. Industrial injuries can occur suddenly by means of a workplace accident or over time as a result of many factors, including:
Repetitive Stress Injuries (RSIs) can occur when a worker performs a task that uses the same large or small muscles over and over, with little chance for rest or recovery;
Risk factors that increase the chance of RSIs include:
- Lack of variety in job tasks;
- The worker not being accustomed to the task, and
- New workers who have not be sufficiently instructed on how to safely perform the task.
Force/Gripping injuries can occur when:
- Workers grasp, tools or object that are too large, odd-shaped, vibrating or an awkward shape.
- When the worker is wearing bulky gloves or the worker’s hands are cold.
- When workers use a pinch grip to grasp small objects.
Hand and wrist tendons and muscles tire much quicker when workers use a pinch grip rather than a power grip. And much more pressure is exerted on soft tissue, such as muscle, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Over time, these can cause debilitating industrial injuries.
Awkward Posture/Kneeling injuries can occur when any joint of a worker’s body bends or twists excessively, outside a comfortable range of motion. This puts stress on muscles, tendons and joints.
Static Posture injuries can occur when an awkward posture is held for a long time, causing muscle fatigue, because:
- Fatigued muscles ache because of a lack of circulation from holding a static posture for too long.
- Fatigued muscles can lead to increased discomfort, spasms and even injury.
Local Contact Stress occurs when:
- A hard or sharp object comes in contact with the skin.
- A worker strikes objects sharply with the hand, foot, knee or other body part.
Local contact stress can irritate soft tissue and interfere with circulation and nerve function, especially when:
- The hard object comes into contact with an area with little protective tissue, such as the wrist, palm, or fingers.
- When the pressure is applied repeatedly or over a long period of time.
Vibration exposure can occur:
- While using power tools in multiple occupations and settings, (e.g., automotive repair shops, construction work, engineering, dental care, etc.)
- When hands are exposed to very high frequency vibrations, such as dental technicians and dentists.
- The whole body being exposed to vibrations such as shocks, jolts, lateral sway and vertical bouncing, while driving equipment.
Vibration from power tools can place stress on the tissues of the fingers, hand and arms, which can cause such conditions as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), arthritis or tendonitis. It can also cause changes in muscle fibers, which can result in impaired grip force, reduced mobility and pain in the hand and arm. Whole body vibration (WBV) from driving puts stress on the feet, buttocks and spinal tissues, which can cause cumulative trauma, repetitive stress injuries, chronic wear and even sudden shock syndrome injuries.
What is an Ergonomic Injury?
Industrial injuries caused by ergonomic hazards are also known as ergonomic injuries. Ergonomic injuries are very commonplace now because industries require increasingly higher rates of production, which can result in such ergonomic hazards as:
- Workers frequently lifting, carrying, pushing or pulling loads unassisted by fellow workers or devices;
- Increasing specialization that require workers to perform repetitious functions or movements over extended periods of time, day after day;
- Workers being required to work more than 8 hours a day, which leads to fatigue;
- Workers being required to work quicker on fast assembly lines; and
- Workers having to handle tools or objects requiring a pinch grip or excessive force.
Preventing Ergonomic Risks that Lead to Industrial Injuries
The likelihood of developing industrial injuries is dependent on the frequency and duration of exposure to ergonomic risk factors. The following are a few common ergonomic injuries and simple remedies that can reduce or eliminate them:
|Neck Pain||Electronic telephone head set, upright document holder.|
|Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)||Special keyboard, voice activation software.|
|Chronic Pain||Implement rest or stretch breaks, alternative task assignment.|
|Awkward Position/Kneeling||Changing workstation layouts to minimize twisting, raising or lowering work surfaces and storage spaces to minimize reaching, bending and kneeling, providing proper seating for low level or kneeling work and providing knee pads for workers that need to kneel.|
|Repetitive Stress Injuries||Eliminating excessive force and awkward positions, providing safe and effective job procedures, allowing workers to rotate between workstations and tasks (job rotation).|
|Putting remedies in place alone will not reduce the risk of industrial injuries. Workers will also require proper training on how to perform their job duties safely and ergonomically.|
Ergonomic Consulting Services in Los Angeles
An employer needs to take into consideration all aspects and areas of the workplace in order to develop a practical approach of proactive planning and assessment to reduce and eliminate industrial injuries. Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants can help. We employ a four-phase process of pairing low-cost, high-impact solutions to real problems.
To help reduce industrial injuries, Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants provides such ergonomic consulting services as:
Call Accredited Rehabilitation Consultants at 323.930.6599 or contact us online for more information on how our services can greatly reduce industrial injuries and increase workplace morale.
Resource: What is an industrial injury?