Millions of injuries occur in the workplace every year. Musculoskeletal injuries, including sprains, strains, and tears to muscles and connective tissues, are some of the most common injuries workers experience. Injuries within this classification can result from lifting injuries, being struck by objects, or even a simple misstep.
Sprains occur when a ligament is stretched too far from its normal position. Sprains of the fingers, wrists, knees and ankles are most common. Strains are the result of a muscle being over-used or moved in a manner that causes over-stretching. Strains can also be caused by repetitive movements that lead to overuse of a particular muscle or muscle group. Strains of the back, neck, groin, and hamstring are most common.
Workplace processes and hazards should be assessed, and corrective actions implemented, to reduce the likelihood of a musculoskeletal injury. Here are some general tips for the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries:
- Encourage employees to participate in a stretching program at the beginning of each shift.
- Develop guidelines for employees regarding safe lifting practices, including guidelines for when assistance should be requested for lifting heavy objects. Train your employees and supervisors to encourage adherence to the guidelines.
- Encourage employees to wear proper attire, including footwear, gloves and other applicable protective equipment.
- Encourage extra caution when employees are required to walk across uneven or slippery surfaces such as ice or wet floors. Consider implementing corrective action whenever possible to eliminate or reduce slippery or uneven walking surfaces.
- Keep the floor and walkway clear of electrical, telephone and computer cables, boxes, etc. They are sprain and strain hazards waiting to happen.
- For office employees, encourage the use of proper ergonomics including sitting with feet flat on the floor and keeping elbows at a 90-degree angle while typing.
Use of Technology Can Help Reduce Musculoskeletal Injuries
“Wearable technology” typically invokes images of smartwatches or fitness trackers, but it isn’t limited to those specific pieces of technology. Rather, wearable technology can be any device kept on someone’s person that connects to the internet and logs activity. Typically, such devices interface with apps or websites that present tracked data in a readable or visual format. In recent years, wearable technology has evolved from the realm of personal activity monitoring into a viable business solution.
Potential Benefits for Employees - At the core, wearable technology is intended to improve insight into employees' work practices and efficiencies. With this in mind, there are a variety of ways employees can benefit from using such devices such as preventing ergonomic issues and providing employees with an easy way to communicate with their workplaces. Accordingly, an employee is empowered to take their personal safety into their own hands.
Potential Benefits for Employers - Wearable technology offers a detailed view of how employees work and allows employers to analyze this data in impactful ways. Mapping trends can help improve productivity and reduce worker injuries, such as in the case of musculoskeletal injuries. Some wearable technology programs also provide employers the opportunity to empower employees to implement and enforce the workplace safety program, including documenting near miss incidents and corrective actions implemented.
The Western Growers Connected Worker Program was designed with these benefits in mind - to help make workplace safety programs more proactive and prevent injuries before they occur. Utilizing the latest advancements in wearable technology, the Connected Worker Program measures certain motions and detects unsafe movements of employees during their shift. The data is shared with the supervisor and used to identify risk trends, improve safety measures, and provide coaching opportunities to workers on injury prevention techniques.
For more helpful information or workplace safety training, please contact Western Growers Insurance Services.
Western Growers Insurance Services is a full-service insurance brokerage offering a suite of insurance products and tailored risk management solutions to agribusiness and related industry members. For more information or assistance, please contact Ken Cooper, Director Risk Strategy for Western Growers Insurance Services, at KCooper@wgis.com.
June has been designated as National Safety Month by the National Safety Council. This event is intended to increase awareness of workplace safety topics and reinforce our collaborative responsibility to keep each other safe. Safety is everyone’s responsibility!
This article is one of a four-part, weekly series following the topics designated for National Safety Month.
The topics are:
Week 1: Musculoskeletal Injuries – These are the leading cause of workplace injury and cost billions each year in workers’ compensation and lost productivity costs.
Week 2: Workplace Impairment - We all know the dangers of substance use on the job. Did you know that mental distress, stress, and fatigue are also impairing?
Week 3: Injury Prevention - In 2020 alone, more than four million workplace injuries required medical attention in the U.S. Focus on preventive measures can improve organizational efficiency and reduce costs associated with workplace injuries.
Week 4: Slips, Trips, Falls – A frequent cause of significant workplace injury and associated costs, these types of incidents are often preventable.
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