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How to reduce musculoskeletal disorders at work

People in Pennsylvania who work in transportation, health care, retail, wholesale, construction or warehousing could be at significant risk for a musculoskeletal disorder. That's because these industries had the highest number of MSDs in the United States in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among work-related injuries or illnesses that require missing work while recovering, MSDs are one of the most common. Yet, there are many steps workers and employers alike can take to help prevent these injuries.

MSDs involve injury to the muscles, tendons and nerves, and one of the primary reasons why they happen on the job is due to overexertion and strain put on workers. Since having workers of all sizes and capabilities performing the same tasks in the same way leads to injuries, MSDs can be reduced by tailoring the job to the individual worker: Ergonomics result in less muscle fatigue and even improve productivity. Research has proven that applying ergonomic principles in the workplace decreases MSD risk in many industries, include office jobs, construction and food-processing.

Some of the most important aspects of applying ergonomics in the workplace are identifying the problems that lead to MSDs, encouraging workers to report the first symptoms of MSDs and training workers in the ergonomic solutions as well as the potential indications that they are at risk. Both employees and management should be involved in the process and should understand their roles and responsibilities for making it work.

Employers are responsible for creating a safe environment for their workers. However, even with safeguards like ergonomics in place, workers may still become injured. An attorney could evaluate the details of the workplace injury and assist in seeking workers' compensation. If employers or their workers' compensation insurance company fail to provide adequate compensation or allowances, the attorney could take steps to get the injured worker the compensation he or she deserves.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor , "Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace", October 20, 2014

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