Work-related musculoskeletal injuries are known by different names like sprains and strains, overexertion injuries, and repetitive strain injuries. This type of injury is one of the most common workplace hazards; in Queensland alone, there were 17,900 cases of recorded workers’ compensation claims due to sprains and strains between 2017 and 2018. People develop musculoskeletal injuries over time from repetitive actions that are usually accompanied by improper body posture, working in the same posture for extended periods, and heavy lifting jobs.
While cases of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders are on the rise, there are several ways to prevent them from happening to you. Below is a compilation of tips and techniques that can prevent MSD and dramatically improve your overall health and well-being at work:
1. Recognise early signs of injury.
One of the best ways to prevent this type of injury is to know what to watch out for. If you’re prone to injury, you are likely to experience swelling muscles and joints, as well as discomfort and pain doing work-related tasks.
As soon as you think you have some of the symptoms, it’s important to report this to your supervisor or manager, so they can help establish a more streamlined and effective prevention plan.
2. Adopt a healthier lifestyle.
There are several lifestyle changes you can try that can reduce work-related injuries, such as stretching, drinking enough water, maintaining good posture, and incorporating strength training exercises.
Additionally, consider enrolling in a comprehensive first aid training course in Brisbane as the experience and lessons will encourage you to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle, as well as help you recognise the early signs of injury.
3. Use ergonomically designed tools and equipment.
Ergonomic assistive devices should be available to reduce the strain of performing repetitive or heavy-duty tasks. The company must be responsible for providing training on how to use these devices, as well as how to properly maintain them.
4. Identify and fix potential hazards.
One effective strategy for identifying hazards is to survey other employees on which tasks have caused injuries in the past or which current work duties they find most difficult.
There are several categories of hazards to take note of:
- Posture hazards: Tasks that are done in awkward body postures for a long time, including bending the back, twisting the neck, and constant kneeling or squatting.
- Force hazards: Tasks that require strong force to perform, such as pulling, pushing, and lifting heavy objects.
- Repetition hazards: Tasks that use the same muscles or require the same movements while not allowing for breaks to let the body recover.
- Environmental hazards: Not tasks but external factors that negatively affect work, such as poor lighting, excessive equipment vibrations, or being uncomfortably hot or cold.
- Personal hazards: Including but is not limited to the worker’s lifestyle, strength capability, and activities outside of work.
- Organisational hazards: Low morale and poor communication can also be factors that contribute to musculoskeletal injuries.
Once these problem areas are spotted, a solution can then be made which often includes the use of new ergonomic assistive devices, further employee training, and eliminating redundant tasks that have no significant contribution to work productivity.
For environmental hazards, the solution may involve increasing the lighting, providing more appropriate working clothes, or changing the location where the work is done.
A comprehensive prevention plan is the solution to eliminate musculoskeletal injuries that are sustained in the workplace. The companies that acknowledge and provide solutions to this problem are the ones that gain more profits and have happier workers. The companies that don’t, however, are the ones that experience inefficiency and higher injury rates and employee turnover.
Musculoskeletal injuries can be prevented, and as long as companies are willing to invest in a prevention plan, both employers and employees can avoid injuries and continue to work in a safe and health-conducive environment.