Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSD) are a set of debilitating conditions that affect the ligaments, muscles, nerves, and tendons with characteristic symptoms that stem from frequent and repetitive motions combined with awkward postures that compromise efficient utilization of the back, elbows, feet, hands/wrists, neck, and shoulders. In many industries, positions often require laborious effort where the pace, intensity, and output reflects an individual’s capacity to demonstrate motor coordination skills including bending, lifting, pulling, pushing, reaching, and twisting to meet essential job functions.
While environmental circumstances can dictate the job performance necessary to sustain productivity, employees face personal health and safety risks where they become susceptible to musculoskeletal disorders. Although every job description involves duties and tasks with minimal to severe health risks, employers are responsible for ensuring that ergonomic control measures align with their health and safety policy. Individuals working in manual labor and sedentary occupations can incur distinct WRMSD hazards including carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), epicondylitis, muscle strains, lower back injuries, and tendinitis.
With musculoskeletal disorders, sporadic episodes of pain can escalate, serving as a telltale sign that the disorder is becoming progressively worse. Health and safety initiatives underpinning ergonomic wellness in the face of perceived hazards can mean the difference between avoiding accidents or catastrophes and following lax protocol where the mortality rate remains problematic. A coordinative plan between employers and the workforce to identify and address hazardous conditions to diminish or prevent MSD-related incidents sets a precedent in fostering sound ergonomic management.
Because work-related musculoskeletal disorders are prevalent, companies that adopt an ergonomic system consisting of workstation modification, educational training, and regular assessments of workplace conditions represent a mainstay against accidents and injuries. According to the Institute of Medicine, WRMSD-related cases impose financial setbacks on the economic purse for employers where workers’ compensation claims to cover medical expenses ensue. Moreover, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) establishes guidelines in recognizing health and safety standards where employees have recourse if workplace hazards exist.