The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has released a new report designed to help employers prevent the development of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in their employees.
The report focuses on the ways employers can assess and correct the injury risks posed by work postures and repetitive motions.
Some of the most common and the most debilitating work injuries happen when employers fail to consider ergonomic risks as they create and review employee tasks. Among the injuries caused, MSDs stand out as a significant subgroup.
In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released a report stating that in 2012, MSDs accounted for more than one third of all workplace injuries. Of all work-related MSDs, the most common are back problems, and the report noted that shoulder-related MSDs can be the most severe.
According to BLS data, some of the workers most at risk for these injuries are nurses, nursing assistants, janitors and maintenance workers, in addition to general laborers and materials movers.
The authors of the NIOSH report note that they hope employers will use the information in the report to enhance the motion design process and to improve the review of current physical job requirements.
But legal experts agree that employees should not wait for employers to implement the safety recommendations, especially if a risky or injurious situation is already at hand. Employees who feel unsafe or physically stressed while at work can inform their employer in writing, or they may contact the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to report unsafe or unhealthful conditions anonymously.