Tips to Protect Workers from Ergonomic Injuries
To protect workers from MSDs, creating a work environment that minimizes the risk of injury to employees is crucial. By applying ergonomic principles, you significantly reduce the number of MSDs in the workplace and the costs associated with them.
Use the tips below to develop your ergonomic strategy:
- Define Clear Goals and Objectives. Management should define clear goals and objectives for the ergonomic process, discuss them with their staff, and assign responsibilities.
- Involve Workers in Ergonomic Approach. Employees should be involved in your worksite assessment and solution development processes. Employee involvement is vital to the successful implementation of your ergonomic approach.
- Identify Problems. An essential step in the ergonomic process is to identify and assess ergonomic problems in the workplace before they result in MSDs.
- Implement Solutions to Control Hazards. Depending on the hazard, your solution will differ. Your solution should reduce, control, or eliminate workplace MSDs where possible.
- Train Employees. Employees should be trained on MSD risks, signs of MSDs, and reporting injuries.
- Evaluate Progress. Periodically assessing your ergonomic process’ effectiveness ensures long-term success through continuous improvement. Management should create an evaluation process to determine the success of your ergonomic approach, and corrective action procedures to address issues identified through evaluation.
- Encourage Early Reporting of MSD Symptoms. Early reporting accelerates the assessment and improvement process, helping to prevent or reduce symptoms, the development of serious injuries, and lost-time claims.
For more information, refer to the Identifying and Addressing Ergonomic Hazards Workbook and the OSHA Ergonomic FAQs.
Providing OSHA Ergonomics Training to Employees
While OSHA guidelines don’t have specific requirements for ergonomic training for employees, they provide guidance on how to get the most out of your training.
OSHA recommends that employers train workers on:
- Common MSDs and their signs and symptoms
- The importance of reporting MSDs, and signs and symptoms, as soon as possible
- How to report MSDs in the workplace
- Risk factors and work activities associated with MSDs hazards
OSHA Ergonomic Enforcement
While there is no OSHA ergonomics standard, OSHA enforces ergonomic hazards under the General Duty Clause. The General Duty Clause states that employers must keep their workplaces free from recognized serious hazards, including ergonomic hazards.
OSHA assesses MSD-related issues in complaints, referrals, and targeted inspections under this Clause. Where inspections find ergonomic hazards, OSHA issues General Duty Clause citations or hazard alert letters.
OSHA will conduct follow-up inspections or investigations within 12 months of issuing an ergonomic hazard alert letter.
OSHA Healthcare Compliance
To be OSHA compliant, there are several other OSHA standards that healthcare organizations may need to meet. Depending on your specific organization and specialty, these requirements can vary.
This is because OSHA compliance addresses workplace hazards and safety. Say, for instance, you’re a small healthcare practice, you would likely be required to meet the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard but might not have to comply with the OSHA Ionizing Radiation Standard.
Having an OSHA program that is tailored to your specific business is essential to reducing workplace hazards and injuries.