Preventing Musculoskeletal Injuries


Thanks for joining us. The last day of February is repetitive strain injury awareness day. In this episode we’re going to take a quick look at musculoskeletal injuries and how to prevent them.


The pains and strains are may be called repetitive motion or strain injuries, cumulative trauma disorders, or overuse syndrome. All describe at least some of the problem, but don’t fully describe the entire issue. But the effects of what is more accurately called Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (or MSDs) are clear. Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, thoracic outlet syndrome and tension neck syndrome are just a few examples.


Almost all work requires the use of the arms and hands and, therefore, impacts the hands, wrists, elbows, neck and shoulders. Work using the legs can lead to injuries to the knees, hips, ankles and feet. MSDs are known to cause significant human suffering, as well as lost of productivity and economic burdens.


With the high levels of MSDs, and interest in the subject focused has turned to ergonomic programs to help prevent these painful injuries to plant and office workers alike.


MSDs are associated with work patterns that include fixed or constrained body positions, continual repetition of movements and/or force that is concentrated on small parts of the body, such as the hand or wrist. A pace of work that does not allow sufficient recovery between movements can also contribute to injury.


Generally, MSDs occur as a result of a combination and interaction among these factors.


One element of an effective ergonomics program for the prevention of MSDs is asking workers questions about their health.  A survey helps to find out when workers are experiencing any discomfort, pain or disability that may be related to workplace activities. These can then be addressed.


Hazards are best eliminated at the source. In this case, the prime source is the repetitiveness of work. Therefore, efforts should be concentrated on avoiding the repetitive patterns of work. These job redesigns may include mechanization, job rotation, job enlargement and enrichment, and teamwork. Where elimination of the repetitive patterns of work is not practical, prevention strategies involving workplace layout, tool and equipment design, and work practices should be considered.


For more information on preventing work-related musculoskeletal injuries, please visit and search on “repetitive strain” or “MSD” – and please also check out our other podcast “Tips to Prevent Repetitive Strain Injuries”. Thanks for listening everyone.