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Ergonomics isn't enough to prevent overexertion injuries on the job

Philadelphia workers' compensation

Overexertion injuries (also called musculoskeletal injuries) can be more than a nuisance for workers who regularly perform physical labor. It can result in nagging pain in the back, muscles, joints, hands, feet, and knees.

According to the National Safety Council, roughly 33 percent (295,830) of all workplace injuries in 2017 were caused by overexertion. That's enough injured workers to fill up four football stadiums.

Do ergonomics play a role in workplace injury prevention?

Ergonomics is a workplace engineering method that promotes both efficiency and safety. It has been touted as the holy grail solution to overexertion and job-related musculoskeletal injuries, according to Occupational Health & Safety.

Here is an example of how it works: a manufacturing worker may be provided with comfortable seating and an altered workspace to help prevent back injuries from poor posture and limit the amount of effort needed to perform everyday tasks.

A 2002 study conducted by OSHA found that applied ergonomics reduced musculoskeletal injuries by 26 percent over a 10-year period. The Occupational Health & Safety article raises some concerns with ergonomic engineering not being properly applied, however.

Ergonomics not always applicable

The article uses a box truck delivery driver as an example. An employer may provide a delivery truck driver with truck handles, loading ramps, and two-wheel hand trucks, to limit the amount of lifting and carrying of inventory. The example show that musculoskeletal injuries can still occur when lifting and setting up the loading ramp.

This is where relying heavily on ergonomics to prevent injuries can be dangerous. Workers should receive training on how to use proper posture to perform physical tasks. This can reduce the risk of sustaining an injury in work environments where:

  • Ergonomic engineering is practical
  • Ergonomic engineering isn't practical
  • Workers haven't encountered certain workplace circumstances

What should I do if I sustained a musculoskeletal injury on the job?

Musculoskeletal injuries often occur after a long period of performing repetitive physical motions. They often include:

  • Spinal injuries, such as herniated or slipped discs
  • Muscle pain and stiffness
  • Nerve pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Knee pain
  • Sciatica

Performing your job with a musculoskeletal injury can be difficult, even impossible. Your injury can worsen over time if ignored. Something as common as dull low back pain could indicate a serious underlying injury. That's why it's critical that you take these injuries seriously.

Don't worry about not being able to attend work and collect a paycheck or afford medical expenses. Workers' compensation covers those costs, but getting benefits is easier said than done.

Any error in your paperwork or claim could result in your benefits being denied. An experienced Philadelphia workers' compensation attorney at The Law Offices Of Richard A. Jaffe, LLC can maximize your chances of obtaining benefits. Contact us online to find out how. We offer free consultations and will not request a payment unless we win your case.

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