What is Ergonomic Injury: Risk Factors and Prevention

Ergonomic Injury

Ergonomic injury is an injury caused by exposure to ergonomic hazards/risks. Some of the ergonomic hazards/risks are:

Examples of Ergonomic Hazards

  • Poor workstation design
  • Display screen equipment
  • Repetitive strain
  • Prolonged exposure to abnormal temperatures
  • Prolong exposure to vibration
  • Prolonged awkward posture
  • Forceful exertion, etc.

Read Also: Office Ergonomics | 10 Tips to Avoid Ergonomics Disorders

Examples Of Ergonomic Injury 

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: This is a painful condition of the hands and wrists caused by pressure on the median nerve due to a high rate of repetition using the hands. This pain runs from the shoulder down the arm to the hands. This syndrome includes numbness, tingling, weakness in the hands, etc.
  • Ganglion Cysts: This is a swelling that forms a
    lump on the wrist. It is caused by repetition and working
    with wrists bent.
  • De Quervain’s Disease: Pain and inflammation
    at the base of the thumb.
  • Raynaud’s Syndrome (White finger): This is the loss of control and feeling in fingers and hands, numbness or tingling in the fingers. It is majorly caused by forceful gripping, vibration, cold and/or wet environment.
  • Tendinitis: Pains and inflammation in any joint such as elbow, wrist, knee, etc, caused by repetition and awkward posture.

Ergonomic Risk Factors

Ergonomic risk factors are factors that enhance the development of ergonomic injuries. These factors are:

  • High Task Repetition: A job is considered highly repetitive if the cycle time is 30 seconds or less. High task repetition, when combined with other risk factors such as high force and/or awkward postures, can contribute to the formation of MSD (Musculoskeletal disease).
  • Forceful Exertions: This occurs in jobs that place force loads on the human body. In this kind of job, muscle effort increases in response to high force requirements, increasing associated fatigue which can lead to musculoskeletal disease.
  • Repetitive/Sustained Awkward Postures: Awkward postures place excessive force on joints and overload the muscles and tendons around the affected joint.

Read Also: Ergonomic chair, features & benefit

Ergonomic Injury Prevention

Ergonomic injuries can be prevented by tackling the cause/risk factors.

When risk factors like – High task repetition, forceful exertion, and repetitive/sustained awkward posture are tackled, the likelihood of developing an ergonomic injury will be greatly reduced.

This can be achieved by adopting some basic risk control measures like:

  • Engineering control: Eliminating excessive force and awkward posture, excessive force requirements, and also eliminate or reduce awkward postures with ergonomic modifications. This may require a change in equipment design/structure.
  • Administrative control: Work rotation can be initiated where elimination is not feasible. This will give the stressed body part-time to recover naturally before the next shift.
  • Change or improvement of work procedure/practice: Work process improvements such as using carts and dollies to reduce lifting and carrying demands, and sliding objects instead of carrying or lifting can help greatly in preventing the development of MSD.
  • Training: Employees should be trained. The training should cover – What are ergonomic injuries, examples, risk factors, health effects, prevention, etc.

Read Also: 11 Valid Ergonomics Principles for Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace

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