Today's News

ASSE's ergo branch addresses growing problem (10/5)

October 5, 2010
/ Print / Reprints /
ShareMore
/ Text Size+

Workplace musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are one of the most significant occupational safety and health problems in the U.S., according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Ergonomics Branch, according to a recent press release, is providing tips to help reduce MSDs at work and at home as part of October’s National Ergonomics Month.

The ASSE Ergonomics Branch’s free “Ergonomics Tip Sheet” for the workplace and home office is available at http://www.asse.org/practicespecialties/ergonomics/ergo_tip_sheet.php.

While a common cause of work MSDs is long or frequent exposure to awkward posture and forces to joints of the body when performing work tasks, the control is good ergonomic design of the workplace. OSHA describes occupational ergonomics as the science of designing workplace conditions and job demands to fit the capabilities of the working population.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2005 sprain and strain injuries accounted for more than three-fourths of the MSD cases that resulted in days away from work.

“I do not expect to see much change in that number when data for 2006 and later are released. MSDs are a growing concern in all industries from office work to shipyards; from restaurants to hospitals; and are increasingly on OSHA’s radar scope,” said ASSE Ergonomics Branch Chair Jeremy Chingo-Harris, CSP, of Racine, WI. “OSHA has recently brought added attention to occupational ergonomics by proposing the addition of a new column on the OSHA 300 log for tracking work-related MSDs. Current OSHA regulations do not have a specific standard addressing ergonomics but maintains the ability to cite a company for poor ergonomics under the general duty clause.”

“Musculoskeletal disorders continue to be a major problem for American workers. They’re real and they’re hurting a lot of people,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Dr. David Michaels. “OSHA believes that putting the MSD column back on the work-related injuries and illnesses log will provide useful information that workers and employers can use to better identify MSDs and keep workers healthy and safe.”

Chingo-Harris added, “Beyond OSHA we look at effective ergonomics programs as a cost saving opportunity and the right thing to do for employees. Injuries cost companies and industries millions of dollars every year in direct and hidden costs. Companies need to start asking if they can afford the cost of not incorporating ergonomic practices into their operations.”

The application of good ergonomic design of the workplace can improve productivity; help avoid illness and injury risks; and, lead to increased satisfaction among the workforce. The scope of ergonomics is very broad, but mainly refers to assessing work-related factors that may pose a risk of MSDs and recommendations to alleviate them. Examples of these risk factors are found in jobs requiring repetitive, forceful, or prolonged exertions of the hands; frequent heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying of heavy objects; and, prolonged awkward postures. Vibration and cold may add risk to these work conditions, according to OSHA. Reducing exposures to any one or all of these risk factors will help reduce the risk of injury to employees.

ASSE Ergonomics Branch member Lawrence J. Schulze, PhD, P.E., CPE, of Houston, TX, noted there is no one-size-fits all approach to ergonomics, “However, in addition to these tips, it is key to train your employees in ergonomics to provide them with the skills, knowledge, abilities and tools aimed at reducing ergonomic injuries.”

ASSE Ergonomic Branch member Cynthia L. Roth, CEO of ETC, said. “We urge employers now to develop and implement effective ergonomic systems to reduce those injuries such as back, arm, wrist and neck injuries usually caused by repetitive motion. An initial investment in effective ergonomic programs removes barriers to quality, productivity and human performance by fitting products, tasks, and environments to people, reduces the incidence of injuries and costs.”

Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

You must login or register in order to post a comment.

STAY CONNECTED

Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon

Multimedia

Videos

Image Galleries

ASSE Safety 2014 Review

A gallery of photos from the sprawling Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, where ASSE’s annual professional development conference was held June 8-11. All photos courtesy of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

9/30/14 2:00 pm EST

Leveraging Sustainability Initiatives to Benefit Your Community and Increase Compliance

This webinar will review how General Motors' Sustainability initiatives are being leveraged to improve the community and the environment, create efficient energy programs, improve sustainability tracking, impact on processes and overall reporting and improve overall social, environmental and corporate sustainability.

ISHN Magazine

ISHN SEPTEMBER 2014 COVER

2014 September

ISHN'S September issue features a series of essay on thought leadership. Get expert advice on self-motivation, compliance and more!

Table Of Contents Subscribe

THE ISHN STORE

M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

More Products

For Distributors Only - SEPTEMBER 2014

ISHN FDO SEPTEMBER 2014For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THE SEPTEMBER 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

ishn infographics

2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.