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Job-related musculoskeletal disorders

If you fall and break your wrist at work, it is often difficult for your employer to argue your workers’ compensation claim. However, subtle musculoskeletal conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome are trickier, especially since they usually do not appear right away. 

Still, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are one of the most commonly reported reasons that workers stay home or cannot perform their full duties. We believe that it is essential to understand how these workplace injuries happen. Then, it becomes easier to determine the cause of your MSD and learn how to prevent future occurrences. 

How could I get an MSD? 

Any physical labor that requires repeated or awkward movement could put you at risk for an MSD. There is no particular high-risk job or sector for musculoskeletal disorders, and even low-activity occupations like desk work see a share of cases. Typical causes of job-related MSDs can include: 

  • Repetitive motions, like typing or assembly line work 
  • Frequently bending down to work, like filing in a doctor’s office 
  • Reaching for overhead items, like bottles in a bar 
  • Working in awkward positions, like underneath sinks in plumbing 
  • Pulling and pushing heavy loads, like pallets in a warehouse 
  • Lifting heavy parcels, like packages in logistics 

If your employer does not provide or enforce processes designed to combat these stresses, you may be at a significantly higher risk of developing an MSD. 

What is an ergonomic process? 

An ergonomic process adapts a job to match your natural movement. Your employer is responsible for your safety and must implement ergonomic processes to preserve you and your co-workers’ physical health. Often, tasks that require unnatural motion to complete have many different solutions. Some resolve as quickly as providing a different tool or moving the work surface to a more comfortable level. Other trouble areas may benefit from your personal input so that management can put together a program to solve the problem, provide training and oversee its application. 

Understanding your exposure level is the first step toward determining if your duties are responsible for your MSD and working to prevent them from happening to others. For more information on this and other workers’ compensation topics, visit our webpage. 

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