AMERIND Risk ALARM Newsletter - 2015 2nd Quarter 2015 - Page 8

ALARM W T HOER N KP EL WASCLEE TSTAEFRE T Y TIPS Sprains and Strains in the Workplace According to studies by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, sprains and strains are common and costly in the business industry today. Sprains and strains are preventable in all types of workplaces. It is just a matter of pinpointing the problem and developing an ergonomic solution. What is the Difference Between Sprains and Strains? A sprain is an injury to a ligament (tissue that connects two or more bones at a joint). In a sprain, one or more ligaments is stretched or torn. A strain is an injury to a muscle or a tendon (tissue that connects muscle to bone). In a strain, a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn. The Causes of Sprains and Strains Sprains and strains can happen suddenly or develop over the course of days, weeks or months. When a worker is exposed to causative risk factors, they are more likely to develop a sprain / strain. Ergonomic (Workplace) Risk Factors: • Excessive Force: Many work tasks require high force loads on the human body. Muscle effort increases in response to high force requirements, increasing associated fatigue which can lead to MSD. • Excessive Repetition: Many work tasks and cycles are repetitive in nature, and are frequently controlled by hourly or daily production targets and work processes. High task repetition, when combined with other risks factors such high force and/or awkward postures, can contribute to the formation of MSD. A job is considered highly repetitive if the cycle time is 30 seconds or less. • Awkward Posture: Awkward postures place excessive force on joints and 7 AMERIND Risk ALARM | Q2 Sprains, Strains by Body Part Source: Bureua of Labor Statistics (2011) overload the muscles and tendons around the effected joint. Joints of the body are most efficient when they operate closest to the mid-range motion of the joint. Risk of MSD is increased when joints are worked outside of this mid-range repetitively or for sustained periods of time without adequate recovery time. • Other environmental factors: Slip, trip and fall hazards increase risk of a sudden / acute soft tissue injury. A Proactive, Prevention-focused Approach to Sprains and Strains in the Workplace Prevention is, of course, better than treatment. Sprains and strains are a painful (and unnecessary) experience that we want to prevent from happening. To do that, you need a comprehensive prevention process to systematically identify and remove the risk factors present in your workplace and workforce through the use of controls. There are two primary types of controls; ergonomic (workplace) controls to reduce/remove ergonomic risk factors and individual controls to reduce/ remove individual risk factors. Ergonomic (Workplace) Controls • Engineering Controls eliminate or reduce awkward postures with ergonomic modifications that seek t