Low back strains, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other soft-tissue musculoskeletal injuries are the most frequent causes of missed workdays in the United States, and most result from ergonomic, slip, trip, or fall hazards, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Fortunately, most of these hazards can be minimized through workplace interventions. One effective approach is ergonomics, which is the study of preventing musculoskeletal disorders through workplace design and policies.
The first step to designing ergonomic interventions is to identify workplaces that need them. In a paper published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers describe how they used computer programming—specifically, machine-learning—to identify industries at high risk for these prevalent hazards. Study lead author Alysha Meyers, Ph.D., NIOSH epidemiologist, explains the study and its results.