When the word ergonomics is mentioned, most employers and many others will tend to make derogatory comments and act as though ergonomics is some kind of contrived problem. However, from experience of visiting many types of industries and workplaces, it is not at all unusual to talk to a person who has had five surgeries related to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs), repetitive strain injuries, sprains/strains, or repetitive-motion injuries (RMIs). In this chapter, these terms will be used interchangeably.

Since the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported ergonomic-related injuries/disorders as illnesses until 2012, even though they made up approximately 69% of reported illnesses, now such injuries/illnesses are reported as "other" without recognizing that they have an origin in ergonomics. Because there is not one word that describes ergonomic-related injuries or illnesses, they are described as a mixed bag of conditions that, in most cases, require medical treatment and quickly become costly and disabling.

As workers conduct the tasks of their jobs, there is a constant wear and tear on their bodies. Ergonomic risk factors are the aspects of a job or task that impose a biomechanical stress on the worker.

The factors that exacerbate these types of injuries/illnesses are as follows:

  • • Force
  • • Vibration
  • • Repetition
  • • Contact stress
  • • Awkward postures
  • • Cold temperatures
  • • Static postures

A brief description of why these factors are important to addressing and solving ergonomic issues is as follows.

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