Repetitive stress injuries are temporary or permanent injuries to muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons that are caused by performing the same motion over and over again. Common repetitive motion injuries are carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis or “tennis elbow.”
Epicondylitis or “tennis elbow” typically is caused by using certain tools over and over for long periods of time, often in an awkward position. Injuries of this type are painful and can be debilitating, so it’s important to identify repetitive tasks and take steps to reduce the risk of repetitive motion injuries.
Ways to Prevent Elbow Sprains and Strains:
- Look for a tool that needs less force to use and a handle that fits your hand well.
- Make sure that the tools you use are in good condition.
- Keep your wrists as straight as possible when using tools.
- Use power tools when possible to minimize stress on wrists, hands, and arms.
- Keep tools in good condition to reduce vibration and the force required to use them.
We’re on a roll with another ergonomics post! Did you know 34% of workplace injuries are caused by bad ergonomics and that back strain accounts for 30% of all workplace injuries? Good ergonomics on the other hand can increase worker productivity by 11%! Since the average person sits for at least 9 hours per day, just a small change can have major benefits.
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Bending, kneeling and squatting are all postures that are hard on the knees. Overuse injuries, those that develop over time as a result of repeated actions or wear and tear, are common and workers need to be aware of the risk and take steps to protect the knees. If possible, raise work up off the floor to eliminate kneeling and squatting or use a rolling stool instead of crawling. Wearing knee pads protect and distribute pressure across a broader portion of the knee and are extremely important when working on hard or cold surfaces or where there may be sharp items or edges.
Tips to Avoid Strain:
- To protect your knees from injury, wear knee pads.
- Use tool extensions for high and low work.
- Use power tools to make repetitive tasks easier and faster.
- Change posture as frequently as your work allows.
- If possible, sit on a low stool instead of kneeling or squatting.
- Take frequent breaks when possible.
Many of us use a computer and mouse every day and often for the majority of the work day. Sprains and strains to the wrists and hands from computer and mouse usage are common and develop over a long period of time. Making easy and simple adjustments when symptoms first appear can prevent future problems.
How to Control Repetitive Hand and Wrist Tasks (L&I presentation)
Tips to Avoid Strain:
- Use a self-assessment tool as a guide to adjust your workstation
- Request an assessment to ensure that your workstation setup fits you well
- Hold hands in a “neutral position,” with his wrists relaxed and straight while working not bent up, down or to the side
- Change your position and make posture adjustments frequently by adjusting your chair or using a sit/stand desk
- Get moving, walk and stretch periodically throughout your day
- Use both of your hands equally at the computer – if you tend to do a lot with your right hand, consider moving the mouse over to the left of the keyboard
- Take a break, get up and move around – set reminders to take breaks if you need to
Low back or shoulder strains are the most common causes of workplace injuries. Lifting is the most frequent cause of these injuries, especially when the lifting is heavy, frequently repeated or is done in an awkward position (twisting, reaching up or bending down).
Tips to Avoid Strain:
- Think twice, lift once. Think about lifting the object then lift it with your body.
- Use a lifting device whenever possible.
- Push if you can, don’t pull. It’s safer as it allows you to use your body weight more effectively
- When pushing keep the load light enough that it doesn’t take too much force to move and low enough that you can see over it. Push with your whole body, not just your arms.
- Carry items close to your body and make sure you can see where you are going.