U.S. Companies May Reduce Work-Related Injuries By Implementing Ergonomic Risk Assessments

Dec 02, 2013, 16:00 ET from American Society of Safety Engineers

DES PLAINES, Ill., Dec. 2, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The rise of work-place injuries related to musculoskeletal disorders, which is costing U.S. businesses more than $20 billion a year, may be reduced if companies included ergonomic risk assessments as part of their occupational health and safety management systems, according to an article in the December issue of Professional Safety.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) represent one-third of all disabling workplace incidents and more than 40 percent of workers' compensation costs in the U.S., write authors Bruce Lyon, Georgi Popov and Kevin Hanes. MSDs are injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage and spinal discs, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  "The lack of ergonomic principles in workplace design can lead to inherently flawed systems that are costly to retrofit and correct," the authors write.

Implementing ergonomic risk assessment models and tools can help manage ergonomic risks and reduce MSDs. After developing goals and objectives, companies need to train a cross-functional ergonomics team to oversee the process. The authors recommend these teams review workers' compensation claims and incident reports to determine if jobs or tasks have a history of MSDs.

By looking at that history and talking to employees in those work areas, the ergonomics team may identify, collect, analyze and evaluate each risk's severity. Once the assessment is complete, the authors recommend these teams enter risk factors into an ergonomics risk assessment tool to determine whether the job's ergonomic risk is at an acceptable level or requires additional controls.

To learn more about these ergonomic models and tools, please see the December issue of Professional Safety.

For more than 50 years, ASSE's Professional Safety journal has been sharing the latest technical knowledge in SH&E—information that is constantly being developed through research and on-the-job experience. Each issue delivers practical guidance, techniques and solutions to help SH&E professionals identify hazards, protect people, prevent injuries, improve work environments and educate management that investing in safety is a sound business strategy. For more information please visit http://www.asse.org/professionalsafety.

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SOURCE American Society of Safety Engineers