Preventing Work Injuries in Manufacturing & Warehouses With Ergonomics
A Mississippi Workers' Comp Lawyer Discusses
Workplace safety in factories and warehouses often focuses on preventing serious injuries that can happen in an instant — things like falls, trips, electrocutions, and crushing, but serious damage can also develop over time.
Ergonomic injuries are not just for office workers; they are common among manufacturing, warehouse, and factory employees too.
About one-third of reported work injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in production occupations are due to overexertion and repetitive motions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Oftentimes, simple adjustments in the work process and engineering tweaks can help avoid ergonomic injuries such as lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and other musculoskeletal disorders (damage to tissues, muscles, tendons, ligaments). Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) Today has some ideas.
Postures & Actions To Avoid in Manufacturing & Production
There are numerous motions and postures that an employee makes during a shift that could lead to ergonomic injuries.
EHS has identified the top five awkward postures for workers to avoid.
Arms Above the Head
Several health issues can arise when working with your hands over your head is a regular task. These include muscle spasms, shoulder strains, and shoulder inflammation, among others. A person can lift the most with the least amount of effort when they are working their "power zone," which is between the mid-thigh and mid-chest. To prevent such injuries, tasks can be lowered or equipment that places work in the power zone may help.
Swiveling your back frequently as part of your job can lead to muscle strains, disc herniations, and bone spurs. In many situations, it is better for an employee to reposition their feet and move their entire body than twist when handling materials.
Bending at the waist and lifting with your back muscles can quickly lead to serious and long-lasting injuries. To avoid such injuries, employers can educate workers about proper lifting techniques, provide lift-assist equipment, and lower workstations.
Bent or Unnatural Wrists
Keeping wrists straight when completing tasks reduces strain and maximizes grip power. However, many workstations require employees to do their jobs with bent wrists. This can quickly lead to carpal tunnel syndrome and other hand and wrist pain. To prevent this kind of injury, employers can redesign workspaces and provide grip assistance. The goal is to keep wrists straight like you would for a handshake.
Regular Kneeling and/or Squatting
Knees undergo a lot of stress and pressure during a normal day, so putting extra strain on them at work can be a risk — especially for older workers. As we age, the lubricant in our joints dries up, making actions like kneeling more difficult and prone to causing injury. Having to frequently kneel or squat for work can lead to osteoarthritis, bursitis (swelling), and lasting pain. Jobs that require a lot of kneeling and squatting should be redesigned to avoid the need for such actions. If this cannot be avoided, EHS recommends providing knee pads and other personal protective equipment.
Workers’ Compensation for Injured Employees
When people are injured on the job, it is important that they take the time they need and receive the treatment they deserve to properly heal. The worker's compensation system is designed to support this type of recovery. However, just because a person is seriously injured on the job does not mean they will automatically get the workers' comp benefits they're entitled to.
At Tabor Law Firm, P.A., our attorneys can help you navigate the confusing workers' comp system in Mississippi and fight for the compensation you deserve. To find out how we can help you, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced Mississippi workers' compensation attorney.