February is Ergonomics Awareness Month, a time for employees and managers to learn more about musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) injuries in the workplace and how to prevent them.
The injuries affect the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons of the musculoskeletal system, as well as the bone structure of the body.
Employees who perform jobs that require lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively are susceptible to MSDs, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The key to avoiding MSDs is understanding what causes them. That’s where ergonomics comes in.
Ergonomics evaluates how certain tasks are performed in the workplace to help employees mitigate the pain points that cause MSD injuries.
Bureau of Labor statistics identify freight movers, heavy and tractor trailer drivers, light truck and delivery services drivers, and maintenance and repair workers as occupations with high risks of MSDs, which are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time.
Processing jobs also present MSD risk hazards.
Similarly, office workers who spend a significant amount of time each day sitting at desks can experience MSDs.
However, sometimes making small changes can prevent these injuries.
For instance, when you are sitting at a desk, remember to always have both feet flat on the floor.
Good working posture — such as keeping your head, eyes and neck aligned straight forward, with your elbows next to your body — helps promote good blood flow to all parts of the body.