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Employers can take steps to reduce musculoskeletal disorders

When many think about injuries suffered at work they think about major incidents that lead to catastrophic injuries. This is not the only way in which someone might be hurt however. Musculoskeletal disorders can impact individuals who work in a variety of different types of jobs.

Sometimes referred to as MSDs, these disorders impact tendons, nerves and muscles. While virtually anyone could find that they are suffering from one of these injuries–which often affect the lower back, upper extremities or neck–they are most commonly reported by individuals working in the fields of construction, retail, warehousing, transportation and health care. In 2011, workplace injuries reported by people in those fields accounted for 33 percent of all the instances of worker illness and injury reported that year.

Activities that lead to a higher risk of injury occurring include:

  • Performing a similar task repetitively.
  • Pulling and pushing heavy loads.
  • Bending.
  • Lifting heavy loads.
  • Reaching overhead.
  • Working in awkward body postures.

When a worker suffers from an ergonomic injury they may need to miss work. This could lead to the worker filing for workers' compensation benefits. To obtain these benefits a worker must file a claim and have it approved. Most would likely agree a better option would be to not suffer a MSD injury at all. Fortunately there are things employers can do to prevent them from occurring.

In addition to providing training to workers, management provided support is also beneficial. Working with employees to identify any potential situations that might lead to MSDs could lead to the implementation of solutions that prevent or reduce them. For the best possible outcome, early reporting of the injuries when they do occur can help keep them from becoming a bigger issue than they need to be.

Even if an employer takes these types of actions it is possible that some MSD injuries could still occur. If, in these cases workers' compensation benefits are sought and rejected, a lawyer may be of assistance.

Source: OSHA, "Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace," Accessed Sept. 3, 2014

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