Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are among the most common injuries sustained in the workplace. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roughly one in three work-related injuries involve an MSD. While certain workplaces have higher rates of MSDs than others, they can occur in all workplaces. Fortunately, ergonomics offers an effective solution to prevent MSDs.
What Are MSDs?
To better understand how ergonomics can prevent MSDs, you must familiarize yourself with MSDs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that MSDs are physical injuries of soft tissues and supporting structures in the body. They involve the muscles, tendons, cartilage, spinal discs and joints. When any of these soft tissues or supporting structures are stressed beyond their capability, an MSD can occur.
MSDs occur when a soft tissue or supporting structure in the body is stressed beyond its capacity. Many MSDs involve the back. If you stress your back muscles or spinal discs, for example, you may experience back pain -- which considered an MSD. MSDs can also occur when using a computer. If you sit with poor posture for long periods, you may experience back pain. These are just a few examples of MSDs. Regardless, all MSDs involve a physical injury to the soft tissues or supporting structures in the body.
How Ergonomics Can Prevent MSDs
Although there are several precautions employers can take to protect workers from MSDs, none are more effective than embracing ergonomics. Ergonomics is the methodology of customizing a work environment to fit the needs of workers. Ergonomic workplaces offer greater protection against MSDs because they minimize stress on workers. Workers can perform their tasks safely and efficiently without fear of developing an otherwise painful or debilitating MSD.
Tips on How to Create an Ergonomic Workplace
For a more ergonomic workplace that protects workers from MSDs, you need to identify the needs of workers. Ergonomics can vary from worker to worker. After all, it involves customizing a workspace so that it offers a safe and comfortable environment for workers.
In warehouses and manufacturing factories, adding anti-fatigue mats can create a more ergonomic workplace. Anti-fatigue mats are pads that create a more supportive surface. Workers who stand on their feet all day often succumb to MSDs. With anti-fatigue mats, they'll experience less physical stress.
Offices can benefit from ergonomics as well. Choosing supportive office chairs with lumbar backrests, for instance, can protect workers from MSDs. Additionally, adjusting computer monitors to the appropriate heat can reduce neck strain and other MSD-related conditions.