Ergonomics is the study of the relationship between people, their work and the physical work environment. The goal of ergonomics is to fit the job to the individual and promote healthy and safe work practices.
Construction risk factors include repetitive motions, high forces, awkward postures, and vibration exposure. These can occur from activities such as manual material handling, hand tool usage, and prolong equipment operation.
- Repetitive Motions – Doing the same motion over and over puts stress on muscles and tendons.
- Awkward postures – prolonged work with hands above the head or with the elbows above the shoulders, prolonged work with the neck bent, squatting, kneeling, or lifting, handling objects with back bent or twisted, repeated or sustained bending or twisting of wrist, knees, hips or shoulders, forceful and repeated gripping or pinching.
- Forceful lifting, pushing or pulling – handling heavy objects, moving bulky or slippery objects, assuming awkward posture while moving objects.
- Contact Stress – repeated contact with hard or sharp objects.
- Vibration – over use of power hand tools.
Signs and Symptoms
Injuries that can result from a single event, but most often result from cumulative wear and tear are called musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). These injuries occur to the soft tissue or nervous system affecting the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints and spine. These disorders are not typically the result of any instantaneous or acute event but reflect a more gradual or chronic development.
Signs – decreased grip strength, decrease in range of motion, loss of muscle function
Early Symptoms – numbness, tingling, or shooting pain or stiffness in your back, neck arms, and shoulders, pain, swelling or stiffness in joints and hands. Report these symptoms to you supervisor immediately so that changes can be made to correct the problem before it results in a permanent injury.
How to report MSDs
- Employees who think they are showing signs or symptoms of MSDs should report them to their supervisor or the safety department immediately.
- Once a possible MSDs has been reported it will be the responsibility of the Safety Manager to review the claim to determine if in fact it is a MSD.
- Early treatment and intervention can often prevent worsening conditions and permanent injuries.
- Report any job task that you think you result in exposure.
How To Avoid these Disorders
Strategies you can use to reduce your exposure to CTDs:
- Do a few warm-up exercises before you take on any physically demanding tasks.
- Plan ahead. Look at the job you are about to do and think of ways to make it easier on your body.
- Eliminate unnecessary carrying. Reduce manual handling task by using forklifts, hand trucks, or dollies.
- Remember to use proper lifting techniques.
- When using hand tools, avoid awkward and repetitive movement by using the right tool for the job.
- Avoid repetitive trigger-finger action. Select tools with larger switches.
- Change positions, stretch often, and take short breaks from repetitive motion tasks.