Date PostedApril 6, 2013

Musculoskeletal Issues FAQ’s Continued

Musculoskeletal2There are so many different queries that are often asked about musculoskeletal injuries and definitions that it is worth bringing you this additional information from DEIR Queensland .

Can screening workers before employment be a good control measure for manual handling injuries?

It can be used to ensure that workers are capable of fulfilling the requirements of their job but regardless as worker safety and health has to be looked after other control measures need to be employed at all times.

Always look at reducing or eliminating manual handling tasks via engineering alterations.

It can be a lot harder to accurately decide on the physical capability of a worker than to physically alter the way that a job is completed to ensure that the risks are minimised.

Can manual handling risks be controlled through stretching and exercises prior to the work being undertaken?

Research indicates that they do not stop workers from being injured. The focus needs to be on either controlling risks either by eliminating or altering any manual handling tasks that are hazardous.

Do back or abdominal belts help to prevent manual handling injuries?

These are not considered to be personal protective equipment and will not provide the wearer protection from back injury when performing manual handling tasks.

Should gym balls be used at workstations in offices?

Gym balls are used during rehabilitation but it is not recommended that they be used at office workstations. They are unstable and when used and the risk of a worker falling is increased, they cannot be adjusted to fit the height of the desk and they provide no back support to the user.

Is being fit for work important?

It is essential that workplaces take into account that workers need to redevelop fitness for their work after having a holiday, being sick or after an injury.

Even workers that are new to a workplace need time to develop their skills so it is ideal that they are introduced to their tasks gradually so that they can adapt to the conditions in the workplace.

How is lifting weights at the gym different to lifting at work?

The gym is a controlled environment and posture and lifting correctly is important and generally monitored. Weight is increased over time and the lifting is for very short periods of time and not executed daily.

Training in the gym will also target specific muscles and very different from general lifting duties that may be undertaken in the workplace.

Are wellness programs good to reduce the risks of manual handling?

Wellness programs are good for employees and offer many benefits for workers health and wellbeing however they cannot take the place of proper risk management policies and procedures.

What is ergonomics?

Ergonomics is about how people and the work they do fit together. When good ergonomics is referred to it is when the work that is done by a worker is designed to fit both their physical and mental abilities.

So this could mean that the layout and height of work benches suit the workers that are assigned to use them, controls and gauges can be easily read and understood to reduce the incidence of mistakes and any work systems are planned to create an effective interaction between workers, materials and equipment.

Can ergonomics be seen as common sense?

Depending on the common sense of workers is not an effective and reliable risk control. Common sense is subjective as everyone may view the same task differently so management is best via knowledge and the implementation of appropriate control measures.

What is participative ergonomics?

This is where workers from all of the different levels in any organisation collaborate to source solutions to the workplace health and safety issues. This includes using the experience of all the different workers to input using their areas of expertise.

Using this type of collaboration allows organisations to see and assess risks better and allows the management of an organisation to gain a broader idea of the issues across the workplace and how to fix them.

Research that has been undertaken into participative ergonomics has shown that this way of approaching health and safety in the workplace is successful in reducing injuries, compensation claims and sick days.

Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning and web strategy firm based in George St Brisbane. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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