Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are minor physical injuries that affect the joints, muscles and bones. MSDs can have varying severity and they can occur from a single incident or over the course of time from repetitive movements. The pain from a MSD can be uncomfortable and interfere with a person’s daily work and life activities. As people get older their risk of injury increases.
MSDs often occur in the workplace. Some of the professions that are prone to getting musculoskeletal disorders include:
- Nurses’ aides
- Construction workers
- Delivery drivers
- Factory workers
Age seems to be the biggest risk factor for MSDs along with the activity level of the person what kind of work they do.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers who develop musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace usually do so because of bending, crawling, lifting, reaching, and twisting through overexertion or repetitive motions. Some of the more common examples include:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rotator cuff syndrome
- Low back pain
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Sciatic pain
How common are MSDs?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics reports that musculoskeletal disorders account for 33 percent of all work-related injury and illness cases in 2013. MSDs are quite common and most are preventable.
Musculoskeletal injuries in construction workers
MSDs present the main cause of missed time at work, functional impairments and permanent disability for construction workers. The following activities seem to carry a greater risk of musculoskeletal injury for people in the construction trades:
- Brick laying
- Pouring concrete
- Drywall installation
The CDC and NIOSH have done extensive study of MSDs and how to prevent them in industries where they are so prevalent such as construction. The CDC website has a booklet:
“Simple Solutions: Ergonomics for Construction Workers.” This booklet examines the various physical tasks that people in construction undertake each day and provides tips for proper body mechanics when performing these tasks.
Can proper ergonomic training help prevent MSDs?
Proper training can help prevent musculoskeletal injuries and disorders; however, these injuries are often a result of the cumulative effect of performing a work task in a manner that is detrimental to the body. Changing the way the worker performs a task now and into the future will not negate the damage that has already been done.
A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health explored whether the high number of MSDs in office workers might be reduced by providing proper ergonomics training to workers. In a randomized, controlled trial, 3 units were given instructional leaflets about workstation habits and how they might contribute to musculoskeletal injuries.
As a result of the study, a significant improvement in workstation habits were observed. The area that saw the most improvement was a reduction in MSDs in the neck, shoulder lower back and legs.
If you are have experienced a musculoskeletal disorder through repetitive tasks, such as carpal tunnel for an office worker, or an acute injury such as a wrenched back in a construction worker, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Larry Pitt & Associates has served the people in Philadelphia and the surrounding cities and counties for more than 30 years. We can help you through the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim as we have helped so many others. Please contact our office to learn more about our services.