What are Musculoskeletal Disorders and How Do They Happen?

Most people are familiar with conditions such as Carpal Tunnel and Tendonitis caused by over-exertion of muscles and tendons in either sports or the workplace. However, the category of Musculoskeletal Disorders, or MSD, covers a lot more territory. Why is this important for an employer to know? OSHA requires that most industries protect employees from MSD injuries and provide them workers’ compensation in the event that such injuries occur as the result of their labor. Knowing where your employees are at risk can save them from health problems down the road, as well as your business from legal penalties or high workers’ compensation costs and premiums. This is why EKT has set out to help educate the healthcare and manufacturing industries on how they can be more informed and prepared.

What are Musculoskeletal Disorders?

Musculoskeletal Disorders or MSD, are injuries and disorders that affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system, muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, discs, or blood vessels. An injury occurs when the applied load on the body exceeds the failure tolerance or strength of the supporting tissue. Common musculoskeletal disorders include;

  • Sprains
  • Strains
  • Tendonitis
  • Arthritis
  • Carpal Tunnel

If your employees are complaining of any of these problems, it’s time to investigate how MSD injuries are happening at your company.

When a musculoskeletal disorder is caused by or is associated with work, it is usually referred to as a work related musculoskeletal disorder or WRMSD. The risk factors contributing to WRMSD can be defined as the actions in the workplace that may cause or aggravate a MSD such as;

  • Forceful Exertion
  • Awkward Posture
  • Repetitive Motion
  • Exposure to Extreme Environmental Conditions, heat, cold, humidity or vibration.

The obvious cause of a musculoskeletal injury is the result of the body sustaining a very high load that leads to damage of the supporting tissue. An example of this would when be a person tries to move or lift an extremely heavy load that exceeds the capacity of the supporting tissue within the arms, shoulders, legs, or back. However, a more likely scenario for an injury comes from accumulated trauma over time, produced by either a repetitive application of a relatively low load or the application of a sustained load for a long duration.

This can have serious implications for warehouses, manufacturing plants, and healthcare workers maneuvering patients, because MSD injuries can result from picking up too-heavy objects on a frequent basis, or pushing heavy objects that often appear safe to move. A person can sustain an MSD even from moving wheeled carts if the pushing or pulling weight is too high.

Knowing what MSDs to look for and what causes them can help your business improve employee quality of life and lower costs down the line. Stay tuned for more blogs in this series on teaching businesses about MSD and how to make your workplace safer. If you’d like to speak to an engineer about how Electro Kinetic Technologies solves ergonomic problems and helps prevent MSD in a variety of industries, contact us here.

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