Minimize Ergonomic Risk Factors

The ergonomic risk factors that you should try to eliminate or minimize are as follows:

✓ Awkward postures
✓ Cold Temperatures
✓ Force
✓ Repetition
✓ Static Postures
✓ Contact Stress
✓ Vibrations

To minimize awkward postures:

  • Position your mouse next to your keyboard.
  • Keep your elbows close to your sides and your forearms parallel to the floor; adjust the height of your chair so that your arms are at a 90 degree angle.
  • When you adjust the height of the chair to put your arms in the proper position, if your feet are not flat on the floor, use a footrest (or a phonebook if needed).
  • Position materials you are referring to right next to your computer screen, so you don’t need to extend your head or neck.
  • Use a telephone headset if you can.
  • Put your feet flat on the floor.
  • Do not slouch.
  • Keep your wrists straight. Do not bend them forward or backward when typing. This pinches the median nerve, which can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Minimize twisting your trunk from side to side; turn the whole chair with your legs instead.

To Minimize Force:

  •  Type with a light touch.
  • Pad hard surfaces. This will also reduce contact stress.
  • If your feet do not rest flatly on the floor, use a footrest. This will take the weight off the back of your thighs while sitting. It may also reduce the incidence of varicose veins.

To Minimize Repetition:

  • Break up long repetitious tasks, such as typing or computer work, with other tasks, such as phone work or errands.
  • Automate stapling, copying, and colating.

To Minimize Static Postures:

  • Try to change your position frequently throughout the day.
  • Take a break from intense work periodically; move around, or take a walk if you can.
  • If you cannot take a break, try to stretch your arms and/or put your hands at your sides and shake them out periodically to get the feeling back in your fingers; and try to stand up for 30 seconds every hour.

Sitting & Pressure

SITTING & PRESSURE
By Darren Salinger, M.D., OB/GYN
& Melanie Loomos, Inventor

In modern society, sitting takes up an increasing amount of time, both at home and at work. It has been concluded there is a considerable shift to sedentary work in industrialized countries (3).

1881 Analysis of Contact Stresses

The original analysis of contact stresses which lead to pressure-related problems while sitting was published in 1881 by Heinrich Hertz (5).

6 Hours Sitting May Cause Pressure Sore

A healthy individual can develop a pressure sore in six to twelve hours if left undisturbed in the same position (7). A single pressure sore costs more than $8,000 to heal. The yearly costs of treating pressure sores and related problems have been estimated to be almost $1 billion (9).

One study found that 63 percent of patients who sat for an unlimited period of time developed pressure sores whereas only 7 percent of patients developed pressure sores who sat for maximum periods of two hours (1).

Limiting sitting time is only one starting point in preventing pressure sores. Other possibilities include appropriate posture and pressure-reducing seat cushions (1).

In a test of six pressure-relieving devices, the air doughnut was found to be the least effective in reducing inter-surface pressures. None of the devices tested eliminated the inter-surface pressures generated by sitting in one position (7).

To prevent tissue damage, people must be able to shift their weight or be assisted to alternate pressure points (7).

External Pressure = 1/2 Internal Pressure

Externally measured pressure under the butt bones is only one half of the internal pressure. Given the pressures that are prevalent, Staarink (1995) found it amazing that more people do not get pressure ulcers (1).

Risk Factors for Pressure Sores

Studies have implicated factors such as posture and posture changes, impact loading of tissue, elevated temperature and humidity, age, nutritional status, general health, activity level, body stature and shear stress in the development of pressure sores (4).

Shear Force & Pressure Sores

The interest in shear stems from the observation that shear increases the possibility of causing a pressure sore (6). In 1958, it was Reichel who started to focus attention on shear force, which is defined as a force parallel to a surface (2). It is important to reduce shear force as much as possible (6). Avoidance of shear force is as important as avoidance of direct pressure (8).

Snijders (1984) showed that the inclination and the position of a backrest as well as the angle of the seat surface influence the shear force on the seat (3). The proper combination of backrest and seat inclination can reduce shear forces on the seat and on the sitter.

In tests done on healthy young subjects, it was found that when little shear is accepted, a fixed inclination between seat and backrest should be chosen between 90 degrees and 95 degrees (3). When a person is sitting down, the weight of the body is distributed over the supporting surfaces. The distributed shear and pressure result in forces that act on four major body points:
▪ The Feet
▪ The Butt Bones
▪ The Top of the Hip Bones
▪ The Chest

Shear Stresses Reduced – 90N to 5N

In a study measuring shear stresses on wheelchairs, using healthy young subjects, different seat angles were tested. Previous measurements showed that a total shear force on the seat of a foldable wheelchair could become as high as 90N when the seat is horizontal (2). When the seat slant is 8 degrees forward, the shear force becomes smaller than 5N in healthy subjects (2). The assumption is made that if the unfavorable effect of shear stress can be measured in healthy, young subjects, the effect for the hospitalized geriatric and paraplegic population will be even worse (2).

Enveloping Cushion

The enveloping property of a seat cushion is a measure of its tendency to wrap around the object it supports. When the body adopts a sitting posture, the weight of the body is distributed over the supporting surfaces (3). A good enveloping cushion provides a large contact area and a uniform stress distribution (9).

Medium density foam results in the lowest shear stresses and compressive stresses tested. Soft foam results in the next lowest shear and compressive stresses because soft foam tends to “bottom out” and cause pressure from the surface below the foam.

Caution: Temperature Sensitive Foam

Researchers caution against materials in seat surfaces that react to body temperature because there is a risk of rising temperatures and increased humidity which can lead to pressure sores (1), as well as other pressure-related problems.

Researchers conclude that the use of armrests in the case of healthy persons has a very limited pressure-reducing effect but may help stabilize posture.

  1. Applied Nursing Research, Vol. 12, No. 3, August 1999, pp. 136-142, “Sitting Posture and Prevention of Pressure Ulcers,” written by Tom Defloor, MScN, N.N.; and Maria H.F. Grypdonck, Ph.D., RN, Nursing Sciences, University of Gent, Belgium.
  2.  Scandinavian Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 29: 131-136, 1997, “Shear Stress Measured on Beds and Wheelchairs,” written by R.H.M. Goossens, Ph.D.; C.J. Snijders, Ph.D., T.G. Holscher, Mac; W. Chr. Heerens, Ph.D.; and A. E. Holman, MSc.
  3.  Journal of Biomechanics, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp. 225-230, 1995, “Design Criteria for the Reduction of Shear Forces in Beds and Seats,” written by R.H.M. Goossens and C.J. Snijders, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Biomedical Physics and Technology, The Netherlands.
  4. Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Vol. 29, No. 4, 1992, pp. 21 – 31, Department of Veterans Affairs, “Comparative Effects of Posture on Pressure and Shear at the Body-Seat Interface,” written by Douglas A. Hobson, Ph.D., School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, P.A. U.S.A.
  5.  Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Vol. 27, No. 2, 1990, pp. 135 – 140, Department of Veterans Affairs, “Reduction of Sitting Pressures with Custom Contoured Cushions,” written by Stephen Sprigle, Ph.D.; Kao-Chi Chung, Ph.D.; Clifford E. Brubaker, Ph.D., University of Virginia, Rehabilitation Engineering Center, U.S.A.
  6.  Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, Vol. 27, No. 3, 1990, pp. 239 – 246, Department of Veterans Affairs, “Sitting Forces and Wheelchair Mechanics,” written by Paul Gilsdorf, B.S.; Robert Patterson, Ph.D.; Steven Fisher, M.D.; Nancy Appel, P.T., Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, University of Minnesota, U.S.A.
  7.  American Journal of Nursing, 1987, “Sitting Easy: How Six Pressure-Relieving Devices Stack up,” written by Robin Charges, RN, M.A., M.S.N.; and Bettie S. Jackson, RN, Ed.D., F.A.A.N., Montefiore Medical Center, N.Y., U.S.A.
  8.  Arch. Phys. Med. Rehabil., Vol. 60, July, 1979, “Shear vs. Pressure as Causative Factors in Skin Blood Flow Occlusion,” written by Leon Bennett, MAE; David Kavner, DEng; Bok K. Lee, M.D.; Frieda A. Trainor, Ph.D., Veterans Administration Prosthetic Center, N.Y., U.S.A.
  9.  J. Biomechanics, Vol. 15, No. 7, 1982, “Model Experiments to Study the Stress Distributions in a Seated Buttock,” Narender P. Reddy, Himanshu Patel, George Van B. Cochran, Biomechanics Research Unit, Helen Hayes Hospital; and John B. Brunski, Center for Biomedical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y., U.S.A.

PREVENTION NEEDS RESOURCES

Textbook of Pain, 1998, “Prevention of Disability due to Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain,” written by Steven James Linton:

The above-mentioned chapter in the Textbook of Pain, “examines procedures designed for use in health-care settings to prevent disability due to musculoskeletal pain.”

The following statement is made:

“Because musculoskeletal pain is a major source of suffering, health care, and utilization of compensation, there is a definite need for prevention.  However, prevention is not an easy task because disability is related to a developmental process in which multidimensional factors operate over time to produce significant lifestyle changes.  Research on risk factors indicates that although medical and workplace factors are obvious, psychosocial variables are central to the transition from acute to chronic pain.  The early identification of ‘at-risk’ patients is a key to allocating resources and initiating secondary prevention.”

“Unfortunately, we do not yet understand the exact mechanisms that produce musculoskeletal pain.”

ACUTE PAIN

“Acute pain – Pain which is generally defined as pain up to about three weeks is characterized by temporary decreases in activity, reliance on medication, and help-seeking.  It is accompanied by psychological distress; for example, fear, anxiety and worry, in addition to beliefs that pain is controllable through medical and active coping…The patient may have organic findings as well as muscle spasms.

SUBACUTE PAIN

“Subacute pain – Pain which is considered to be between 3 and 12 weeks.  Patients may exhibit altering patterns of increasing and decreasing activity, and withdraw or become reliant on medication.”

PERSISTENT OR CHRONIC PAIN

“Persistent or chronic pain – Pain which is defined as more than 3 months’ duration, activities may have decreased sharply. . .The pain becomes more constant although patients may experience ‘good’ and ‘bad’ periods.”

RECURRENT MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN

“Musculoskeletal pain is usually recurrent in nature.  While most episodes of back pain remit rather quickly and most people return to work within 6 weeks, (Reid, et al., 1997), the majority of sufferers will experience several episodes of pain during the course of a year, (Frymoyer, 1992; Nachemson, 1992; VonKorff, 1994; Linton & Hallden, 1997).”

50 % OF ACUTE BACK PAIN SUFFERERS HAVE PAIN 6 – 12 MONTHS LATER

“More than 50 percent of patients with acute back pain will experience another episode within a year (Nachemson, 1992), and prospective studies indicate that almost half will still have significant problems 6 – 12 months later, (Philips & Grant, 1991; VonKorff, 1994; Linton & Hallden, 1997).”

MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN = LEADING CAUSE OF EARLY PENSIONS

“Firstly, a large number of people suffer from musculoskeletal pain, making it a leading health-care problem even though only a minority develop persistent dysfunction.  Musculoskeletal pain is a leading cause of health-care visits, particularly in primary care,  sick absenteeism, and early pensions, (Frymoyer, 1992; Nachemson, 1992; Skovron, 1992).  However, several studies indicate that over 90 percent of those off work with an acute episode of back pain will return within 3 months, (Waddell, 1996;  Reid, et al., 1997).”

“Secondly, as shown above, musculoskeletal pain is recurrent in nature even though most patients return to work rather quickly after an acute episode.  Although acute sufferers usually feel better and return to work within a few weeks, this does not mean that they have recovered fully or permanently.”

“Thirdly, while up to 85 percent of the population will suffer from musculoskeletal pain, only a small number will account for most of the costs, (Nachemson, 1992; Skovron, 1992; Waddell, 1996).  In general, less than 10 percent of the sufferers may consume up to 75 percent of the resources, (VonKorff, 1994; Reid, et al., 1997).  Thus preventing disability and high-cost cases may result in large economic savings, so that these people constitute a special target for prevention programs.”

MUSCULOSKELETAL PAIN IN SWEDEN & THE NETHERLANDS

“Further, most of the money at this time is spent on compensation, while relatively little is spent on treatment, and almost nothing is invested in prevention.  In Sweden, about 85 percent of the total resources for musculoskeletal pain are spent on compensation as compared to 15 percent for all treatments and drugs, a figure which has remained fairly constant over a 15-year period, (Linton, 1998).”

“Similarly, in The Netherlands, a recent study of all costs due to back pain showed that 93 percent involved compensation and only 7 percent involved treatment, (Van Tulder, et al., 1995).”

PREVENTION NEEDS RESOURCES

“Consequently, until prevention is granted more resources, programs need to be relatively cheap; and this suggests incorporating them into existing practice routines.”

ERGONOMIC RISK FACTORS TO PREVENT

“A host of ergonomic factors, for example, lifting, heavy work, twisting, bending, manual handling, and repetitive work have been found to be associated with musculoskeletal pain, (Pope, et al., 1991; Skovron, 1992).”

“A recent review of some 60 studies revealed a relationship between musculoskeletal pain problems and job demands, control, monotonous work, time pressure, and perceived workload, (Bongers, et al., 1993).”

“If the problem does not remit within 2 – 4 weeks, a formal screening procedure is suggested.”

OSHA FORM 300

Featured

OSHA Form 300

Requirements

The following article was written by John Loomos, Esq., in 2002, a retired labor lawyer.

Not much has changed with regard to filling out Form 300 as required under the General Duty clause since this article was written by my dad except that OSHA has made it much easier to report work-related musculoskeletal disorders and injuries through their web site.

Prior to 2017, a paper log of Injuries and Illness was required to be kept; now, the Log of Injuries and Illness or Form 300 can be filled out easily on line.

Written by John Loomos, Esq. (formerly of the Airline Pilots Association):

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

The Code of Federal Regulations is a codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the Executive Departments and agencies of the Federal Government.  It is divided into 50 titles, which are divided into chapters, which are further divided into parts covering specific regulatory areas.

The general and permanent rules of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) are published under Title 29 of the Code.  Those regulations specifically relating to the Recording and Reporting of occupational injuries and illnesses are found under Part 1904, Section .12, .29, .31, .32, . 33, .35, .36, .40, .41 and .42.  These sections of Part 1904 are summarized for your convenience and are intended to assist you and your company in property satisfying OSHA’s strict recording and reporting criteria of these particular sections of 29 CFR 1904.

29 CFR 1904.12

Section .12 relates to the recording criteria for cases involving a work-related musculoskeletal disorder (“MSD”).  An employer is required to record any MSD in the OSHA 300 Log under the MSD column.

A recordable MSD can be a disorder of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, or spinal discs that have not been caused by slips, trips, falls, motor vehicle accidents or similar type accidents.

Examples of work-related MSD’s include carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff syndrome, DeQuervain’s disease, trigger finger, tarsal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, epicondylitis, tendonitis, Raynaud’s phenomenon, carpet layer’s knee, herniated spinal disc, and low back pain.

The above provisions take effect on January 1, 2003.  For work-related MSD’s that occurred prior to this date, see recording requirements applicable for any injury or illness under Section 1904.5, Section 1904.6, Section 1904.7 and Section 1904.29.

29 CFR 1904.29

This Section stresses the fact that you must use OSHA Forms 300, 300-A, and 301 or their equivalent, whenever a recordable injury or illness is involved.  Form 300 is the Log recording work-related injuries and illnesses.  Form 300-A is a Summary of work-related injuries and illness reported on Form 300 and Form 301 is the Injury and Illness Incident Report.

Each recordable injury or illness must be entered on OSHA Forms 300 and 301 within seven calendar days following receipt of information that a recordable injury or illness has occurred.

You must complete a Form 301 Incident Report, or an equivalent form for each recordable injury or illness entered on Form 300.

Note:  An equivalent form must be one that records the same information as OSHA Forms 300 and 301, is as readable and understandable, and follows the same instructions, as do the OSHA forms that they replace.

You are allowed to keep records in a computer if the computer is able to produce forms equivalent to the OSHA forms when they are needed.  For further information see Section 1904.35 and Section 1904.40.

If a “privacy concern case” is involved you may not enter the employee’s name on Form 300; instead, enter “privacy case” in the space normally used for the employee’s name.  However, a separate, confidential list of the case numbers and the employee’s names must be maintained so that these cases can be updated and information concerning them provided to the government upon request.  Note, however, MSD’s are not considered to be “privacy concern cases.”

The complete list of injuries and illnesses considered to be “private concern cases” for Section 1904 purposes includes (a) an injury or illness involving an intimate body part or the reproductive system, (b) a mental illness, (c) and HIV infection, Hepatitis, or tuberculosis or (d) needle-stick injuries and cuts from sharp objects that are contaminated with other person’s blood or other potentially infectious material.

29 CFR 1904.31

You must record on Form 300 the work-related illnesses and injuries of employees on your payroll, regardless of whether they are laborers, executives, or paid hourly or are salaried, part time, seasonal or migrant workers.  You must also record the work-related injuries of employees not on your payroll if you supervise them on a day-to-day basis.  This group of employees includes workers obtained from a temporary employment service or supplied by a contractor who are supervised by you or your staff on a daily basis rather than by the company or service providing you with the employees.

29 CFR 1904.32

At the end of the calendar year, you are required to –

  • Review the entries made on Form 300 for completeness and accuracy and, when required, correct any apparent deficiencies.
  • Prepare and certify an annual summary of all injuries and illnesses recorded on Form 300.  A copy of the annual summary must be conspicuously posted in each establishment in a place or places where notices intended for employees are customarily posted.  Once posted, you must insure that the annual summary is neither altered, defaced nor covered by other material.  Posting must occur no later than February 1 of the year following the year covered by the Form 300 and remain posted until April 30.
  • The company official who certifies the accuracy of the annual summary must state that he or she has examined Form 300 and that he or she believes the information recorded therein is correct and complete to the best of his or her knowledge.
  • The company executive so certifying must be an officer of the company or corporation, the highest-ranking company official at the establishment, or a designated supervisor at the establishment.

29 CFR 1904.33

Form 300 (the log), the privacy case list (if one exists), the Annual Summary and Form 301 must be retained for five years following the calendar year covered by these forms.

29 CFR 1904.35

This section requires you to involve your employees and their representatives in the record-keeping system in the following way:

  • By instructing each employee how he or she is to report a work-related injury or illness.
  • By providing employees and their representatives with the company’s injury and illness record by setting up a system that allows employees to promptly report work-related injuries and illnesses.
  • By informing each employee how he or she is to implement this system for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses.

Any employee, former employee or personal representative requesting a copy of Form 301 (Incident Report) describing an injury or illness to that employee or former employee must honor this request no later than the end of the next business day.

29 CFR 1904.36

This section prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee who has reported a work-related fatality, injury or illness.  It also protects an employee who files a safety and health complaint.  This protection also applies to an employee who files a safety and health complaint, asks for access to its Part 1904 records, or otherwise exercises any other rights afforded by OSHA.

29 CFR 1904.40

This section requires the company or the corporation to provide authorized government representatives with copies of records required by Part 1904 within four business hours following their request.  Those government representatives authorized to receive these records are representatives of the Secretary of Labor conducting an investigation under the Act, a representative of the Secretary of Health and Human Services conducting an investigation under section 20(b) of the Act, or a representative of a state agency responsible for administering a State plan approved under Section 18 of the Act.

29 CFR 1904.41

This section requires any employer receiving OSHA’s annual survey form to complete it and send it to either OSHA or a designee of OSHA.  This report requires the employer to provide the following information:

  • Number of employees,
  • Hours worked by each employee and
  • Requested information recorded on forms required by Part 1904.

29 CFR 1904.42

Any employer receiving a Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illness Form from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), or a BLS designee, must promptly complete the form and return it to sender following the instructions contained on the survey form.

If you desire more information concerning the above sections please log on to http://www.osha.gov.

Ergonomics and Truck Drivers

2) Sangyo Eiseigaku Zasshi, 2000, Jan; 42(1):6-16, written by Koda S, Yasuda N., Sugihara Y., Ohara H., Udo H., Otani T., Hisashige A., Ogawa T., Toyama H., Kochi Medical School, Department of Public Health, Japan:

The above-mentioned study was a questionnaire survey which analyzed work-related health problems among truck drivers.

“134 local truck drivers, 199 long-distance truck drivers, and 71 clerical workers were analyzed. . .The prevalence rates of work factors affecting health problems of truck drivers were significantly higher than those of clerical workers in the items on irregular shift work, working environment, working posture, handling heavy materials, job stress due to overloading and working time, and limited time off.

The prevalence rates for subjective symptoms (ringing in the ears, neck pain, and low back pain) and present illnesses (hypertension, ulcers in the digestive tract, back injuries, whiplash injuries and hemorrhoids) among truck driers were significantly higher than those of clerical workers.”

Laugh Now, Cry Later

If you don’t minimize risk factors that can lead to chronic musculoskeletal pain, you may laugh now; but you will be crying later if you end up wth a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) that could have been prevented.

Ergonomic risk factors that can lead to musculoskeletal disorders and pain include:  Repetition, force, awkward postures, static postures, contact stress, motion of body segments (shear), compression and vibrations.

We reviewed medical studies dating back to the 1880’s implicating poor ergonomics in the development of musculoskeletal pain.

Pain that is believed to be caused by poor ergonomics could be caused by some other medical condition.  If you are experiencing pain, the earlier you seek treatment, the better.  Self-diagnosis can prove to be very dangerous.  The information on this web site is not a substitute for professional medical advise and should not be used for self-diagnosis.

WHAT ARE MSDs?

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are also known as Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTDs) which are also known as Repetitive Motion Disorders (RMDs).

Cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) are injuries of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibration, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces), or sustained or awkward positions.

Cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) are also called repetitive motion disorders (RMDs), overuse syndromes, regional musculoskeletal disorders, repetitive motion injuries, or repetitive strain injuries

“Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – a compression of the median nerve in the wrist that may be caused by swelling and irritation of tendons and tendon sheaths.
“Tendinitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of a tendon. It develops when the tendon is repeatedly tensed from overuse or unaccustomed use of the hand, wrist, arm, or shoulder.
“Tenosynovitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of a tendon sheath associated with extreme flexion and extension of the wrist.
“Low Back Disorders – These include pulled or strained muscles, ligaments, tendons, or ruptured disks. They may be caused by cumulative effects of faulty body mechanics, poor posture, and/or improper lifting techniques.
“Synovitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of a synovial lining (joint lining).
“DeQuervain’s Disease – A type of synovitis that involves the base of the thumb.
“Bursitis – An inflammation (swelling) or irritation of the connective tissue surrounding a joint, usually of the shoulder.
“Epicondylitis – Elbow pain associated with extreme rotation of the forearm and bending of the wrist. The condition is also called tennis elbow or golfer’s elbow.
“Thoracic Outlet Syndrome – a compression of nerves and blood vessels between the first rib, clavicle (collar bone), and accompanying muscles as they leave the thorax (chest) and enter the shoulder.”
“Cervical Radiculopathy – A compression of the nerve roots in the neck.
“Ulnar Nerve Entrapment – A compression of the ulnar nerve in the wrist.”
PEOSH (1997) further states: “These disorders can also be aggravated by medical conditions such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, multiple myeloma, thyroid disorders, amyloid disease and pregnancy.”

SYMPTOMS OF MSDs or CTDs or RMDs
Can they be Prevented?

Scan
“My wrists are starting to hurt.”  

 

Following is a list of symptoms of MSDs, CTDs, or RMDs, which may involve the back, shoulders, elbows, wrists, or fingers:

  • Numbness
  • Decreased Joint Motion
  • Swelling
  • Burning
  • Pain
  • Aching
  •  Redness
  • Weakness
  • Tingling
  • Clumsiness
  • Cracking or popping of joints

PREVENTION OF MSDs, CTDs, RMDs:

Careful positioning of the body while working with your device can reduce the likelihood of injury.

 

Stenographer
Ergonomics is important for stenographers
  •  Wrists should be in a neutral position, not flexed or dropped.
  •  Use the least amount of pressure when striking the keys.
  • Feet should rest on the ground or a foot rest to relieve pressure on the lower back.
  • Dangling legs add pressure to the thighs and could cut off blood flow to the legs.
  • The head should face forward in order to put the least demand on the neck and shoulders.
  • The forearm should not be raised too much to avoid neck and shoulder pain.
  •  Support the lower back and rest it by leaning back frequently and by supporting the arms.
  •  Ensure adequate clearance for thighs and feet by keeping areas under the desk clear and by using desks or tables that are high enough as free movement is important for supporting the back and for circulation in the legs
  • Do not stay in one working posture. Shift positions so no muscles are tensed in the same position for too long.
  • Stand up and take breaks from your device at least once every hour.

 

First blog post – ErgoNews

Following is an ErgoNews article I wrote on January 5, 2002:

A coalition of business groups and other employers sued the state of Washington over new ergonomic rules designed to protect workers from injury. (1)

“This is clearly a case of a state agency abusing its power and pushing through a rule based on political agendas,” said Tom McCabe, president of the Building Industry Association of Washington. (1)

“Musculoskeletal disorders are believed to be a major cause of time lost from work and long-term disability.  Payments for Workers’ Compensation claims for these disorders have risen rapidly.” (5)

“Because musculoskeletal pain is a major source of suffering, healthcare and utilization of compensation, there is a definite need for prevention.” (2)

“Research on risk factors indicates that although medical and workplace factors are obvious, psychosocial variables are central to the transition from acute to chronic pain.  The early identification of ‘at risk’ patients is a key to allocating resources and initiating secondary prevention.” (2)

“If only we could prevent disability due to chronic pain from occurring, tremendous suffering and monumental costs would be saved. . .Yet, while disability consumes huge amounts of resources, only a small fraction of the amount of these sums is available to prevent chronic pain problems.” (2)

State officials contend the regulations are long overdue and could prevent thousands of injuries per year.  The labor and industries department has no plans to rescind or revise the regulations, Director Gary Moore said.

One study done in April of 1969 by the Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, Aerospace Medical Division, Air Force Systems Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, states:

“The body posture of sedentary workers, especially in offices, and of school children has long been a concern of orthopedists and physiologists.  The increasing number of office positions, of seated factory workers, of people sitting in cars and airplanes, even of seated soldiers, has augmented the concern about ‘unhealthful’ sitting postures.  Complaints about lower back pains are widespread among people who commonly work in the sitting position.  Medical treatment of ailments thought to be connected with the sitting posture, sick leave taken by employees, and reduced work output highlight some of the economic aspects.” (3)

Businesses in industries that report the highest number of injuries must take steps to lower the risks by buying new equipment, repositioning existing equipment, and providing training on how to avoid injury (OSHA).

Major employer groups say the rules will cost them $725 million a year.  The lawsuit also challenges the effectiveness of the ergonomic techniques spelled out in the rules.  (1)

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration expects its workable, practical approach to prevent an average of 460,000 injuries annually and to save businesses $9.1 billion annually because of reduced workplace injuries and greater productivity; with a $27,700 savings in direct costs for each MSD prevented . . .90 percent of American workers are covered by the new OSHA regulation. (4)

FYI:  Ergonomic regulations were passed during the Clinton Administration; but President Bush and Congress repealed them shortly thereafter.

Eugene Scalia, the Labor Department’s top lawyer, has called the regulations “quackery” and “junk science.”

According to  Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer:  “The most important question – how we can protect workers from these crippling injuries – is not even being asked.”

At a forum addressing workplace safety in July, 2001, Labor Secretary Chao stated: “We can choose to do one of two things starting today. . .We can play politics, or we can protect workers.  We can engage in sideshows, or we can pursue safety.”

REFERENCES:

  1. “Business Groups Sue Washington State, Say New Ergonomics Rules Place Burden on Employers,” written by Paul Queary.

  2. “Prevention of Disability Due to Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain,” written by Steven James Linton.

  3. “Ergonomics in the Design of Office Furniture,” written by E. H. Eberhard Kroemer, Dr. Ing., Joan C. Robinette, Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

  4. “Is there Light at the End of the Carpal Tunnel?” written by Ann W. DeVoe, Esq., CBA Report.

  5. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 19:87-107 (1991), “Workplace Ergonomic Factors and the Development of Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Neck and Upper Limbs:  A Meta-analysis,” written by Susan Stock, M.D.