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Controlling Hazards causing Musculoskeletal Disorders among Employees

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Controlling Hazards causing Musculoskeletal Disorders among Employees
Musculoskeletal disorders are among the leading causes of work absenteeism. According to a report released in 2012, 7.5 million days were lost between 2011 and 2012 after employees did not report to work because of musculoskeletal disorders (Nordin & Anderson, 2007). Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) refer to the injuries of nerves, muscles, joints, tendons, spinal discs, ligaments, or cartilage. These disorders commonly affect upper limbs, neck, and lower back; some may lead to disability in future. The frequency of body parts motion, body postures, which are awkward, and exertion of force are the major root causes of MSDs.
For successful control of the hazards viewed as root causes of musculoskeletal disorders, ergonomic assessment is of paramount importance in assessing the employees at work and their abilities to carry out these tasks without suffering traumatic pains. According to Konkolewsky and Boisnel (2000), identifying the risk factors helps mitigating the causes of acute injuries that cause employees’ absenteeism for many days. Body postures, which are awkward, are the major causes of musculoskeletal disorders. Analysis of job safety is essential for the alleviation and mitigation of the musculoskeletal disorders and other hazards in work stations.
Analysis of job safety entails reviewing the potential dangers, which employees are exposed to in their work stations, and alleviating these dangers. This is an appropriate method because it helps employers reduce financial costs of losing employees for long periods of medical attention as well as replacing the employees who cannot return to work after their sustained injury. Analysis of the workers who have reported musculoskeletal disorders will also help reduce the chances of other workers suffering from the same MSDs (Heller, 2006).
It is common knowledge that body postures, which are awkward lead to musculoskeletal disorders. Some tasks in work stations requires employees to bend their backs, twist, and turn their necks, reach for far objects, and forceful grasping that hurt the wrists among others. These include ergonomic risks aspects causing musculoskeletal disorders. Changing awkward postures to straight or natural postures of the body will help alleviate the disorders, which may occur from the awkward postures while employees are performing work activities. Properly-designed workplaces prevent unnecessary motion occurring on shoulders, neck, and on upper limbs of employees. Constant bending and picking objects in packaging industry result to painful backs as well as wrists which inherently hurt. This is solved by ensuring workers access benches in which they pick and package products from natural standing or sitting positions. A good chair, which supports the back inherently, eases pressure on lower back ensuring normal curvature of the body spine (Nordin & Anderson, 2007). The natural body-postures ensure employees are comfortable doing their jobs as well as increase their productivity.
Job rotation control hazards as it enables individuals to switch tasks, which are different, thus eliminating the aspect of a worker doing repetitive tasks. This method inherently breaks job monotony, avoiding one part of the body being overloaded doing a certain task. Exercising team work is another important approach to avoid the musculoskeletal disorders by evenly distributing muscular work among the employees (Konkolewsky & Boisnel, 2000).
Other methods like mechanization allow for companies to eliminate tasks that are repetitive. However, mechanization is neither appropriate nor is it feasible as there are other methods alternative to controlling hazards at workplaces. In aIDition, even with mechanization, some tasks cannot be done by machines, and thus need to be undertaken by employees. Rehabilitation and treatment serve to ease the pain emanating from musculoskeletal disorders (Nordin & Anderson, 2007). Although rehabilitation and treatment may help employees to heal from musculoskeletal disorders, some of the disorders may be beyond rehabilitation and treatment, leaving employees with permanent disabilities.
In conclusion, control methods such as job rotation, analysis of job safety, changing awkward postures of the body while doing a task, and team work help control hazards emanating from musculoskeletal disorders. On the other hand, mechanization, rehabilitation, and treatment are not effective or appropriate given that preventing musculoskeletal disorders is financially viable compared to treating these disorders.

References
Heller, K. (2006). In servicing school personnel on orthopedic impairments. Bureau for
Students with Physical & Health Impairments.
Konkolewsky, H & Boisnel, M. (2000). Preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Retrieved December 17, 2013. from https://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/magazine/3
Nordin, M & Anderson, G. (2007). Musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace: Principles and practice. Philadelphia, PA: Mosby.

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