10 ways to avoid Muscular Skeletal Disorders in the Workplace

10min read 16/02/2022

Musculoskeletal disorders, or simply MSD, encompass a range of physical ailments that can crop up in the workplace. A sore neck, back pain, tennis elbow or sore wrists… We all know a colleague who has had to deal with it.

Fortunately, there are a range of simple tools and tricks you can use to prevent the development of MSD. Below we look at how you can best organize your workplace and which tools you can use to ease your efforts as much as possible. To your health!

What are the causes of MSD? 

How does MSD actually develop? The human body has about 650 muscles, 200 bones and 100 joints. It is therefore not surprising that over time and with repetitive work, sometimes a problem can sometimes arise. Usually the cause of muscle and joint pains can be found in:

  • Lifting or moving excessively heavy loads.
  • Standing or sitting in the same position for too long.
  • Working in an environment that is too cold or too hot.
  • Adopting bad posture, such as a hunched back.
  • The repetitive performance of actions that always put stress on the same muscles or joints.

What are the consequences of MSD?

MSD can lead to a whole host of different degenerative conditions and ailments. It is important to understand that musculoskeletal disorders are progressive. An ailment that seems harmless at first glance can become debilitating over time if you don’t do something. Even during rest periods you can suffer from it. As soon as the first symptoms appear, it is necessary to take action and identify the cause. MSD can lead to the following types of physical discomfort and injury:

  • Pain in the elbows from repetitive movements.
  • Pain in the legs due to too little movement or variation.
  • Back pain due to poor posture or lifting heavy goods.
  • Wrist pain from repetitive movements such as wringing out a mop or using a computer mouse.

In addition to these physical complaints, MSD also entails a financial burden. In the first place for the companies involved due to an increasing number of absentees and extra work pressure from other colleagues. Second, for society due to higher health care costs, unemployment rate, etc.

MSD prevention at RAJA

View the complete overview of RAJA’s protective products in our catalogue or visit our website to view our complete PPE range. You will find numerous solutions for your office, warehouse or shop. You can always easily recognize these products by the ‘MSD prevention’ logo.

10 tips to prevent Injury in the workplace

The list of tools and improvements below may help prevent MSD. Whether you’re sitting at a desk or walking around in a warehouse, you’ll see that with a few simple adjustments you can reap a lot of benefits.

1. Choose the right sitting position at your desk

For workers who must spend many hours in an office chair every day, a good sitting posture is crucial. Here are some tips to make sitting a little more pleasant and ergonomic:

  • Adjust the top edge of your screen to eye level as if you were looking straight ahead. The screen is best at an arm’s length away.
  • Provide a suitable office chair in which the back support can move along, separate from the seat. Your back is thereby permanently supported. In addition, provide a back support that can follow the natural curve of your back.
  • Adjust the desk and armrests to elbow height.
  • The height of the seat should be equal to the height of the back of the knee. To do this, bend your knee at a 90° angle and rest your feet flat on the floor.
  • Finally: make sure that there is enough room for a fist between your knee and your buttocks. This prevents your back of the knee from getting pinched and you avoid pinched nerves and blood vessels.

2. Set your work table to the right height

This tip pertains to people who have to work standing up at a table. Just think of a packing bench, for example. Working at the correct height is crucial to avoid MSD or other workplace injuries. If you work too low, you will have to bend your torso, neck and back too far and can suffer strain as a result. In turn, a work surface that is too high can cause you to lift your arms and shoulders too often to complete the task. We also want to avoid this as injuries can be caused by this as well.

Setting your table so that you minimise the extensions necessary for you to do your job is key. You must also provide sufficient free space under your work surface for your feet and knees. This way you will not be hindered when moving. Additionally, It is best to adjust the seat at an angle of about 15°, this makes it easier for you to change position.

3. Reduce the horizontal gripping distance

It is best to put tools or office equipment that you regularly need within easy reach. This is particularly useful to know when setting up a packing table. Two distances play a role in this:

  • Maximum gripping distance: This corresponds to the distance between your wrist and shoulder (when you keep your arm straight). Place here the material that you need less frequently.
  • Comfortable gripping distance: This corresponds to the distance between wrist and elbow. You use this for materials that you have to reach for much more frequently.

4. Reduce the vertical gripping distance

Lifting goods above shoulder height is often very taxing on your back and shoulders, for example. If you have to place a product in a high rack (or take it out), use a folding ladder or step stool. This way you can easily reduce the working height or ‘vertical gripping distance’. The same ergonomic principle is applied to pallet boxes . You don’t have to lift your goods unnecessarily far to get to the edge of the box.

5. Make it easier to lift and move heavy objects

Make sure you only move heavy objects for as short a distance as possible. You can enlist the help of rolling warehouse material such as a pallet truck to make lifting heavy loads a breeze. These types of products actually do all the heavy lifting for you. An exceptionally handy variant is the lifting table. You first lower the lifting table completely to the lowest position to lift your goods on it. Then use the foot pump to bring the table to the correct height. Because you have to lift less high, you save your back considerably. Finally, thanks to the wheels, you can roll your goods smoothly from A to B.

Helpful to know, you should preferably push rolling material with both hands. It is generally not recommended to pull. Finally, keep these points in mind when lifting objects:

  • Frame the load with both feet.
  • Bend your knees.
  • Keep the natural curve of your back.

6. Automate the work process

Why not just leave some work to machines? You can use them to safely and accurately perform heavy labour or repetitive actions. This way you avoid a lot of physical strain and you also save valuable working time. A few oft-cited examples are:

  • Roller conveyors: ideal for moving an endless series of boxes. This saves your warehouse workers a lot of unnecessary steps.
  • Pallet wrapper: with this machine you can wrap your pallets without any physical effort. With such a wrapper you also prevent waste because the machine knows better than anyone what exact amount of stretch film you need.
  • Strapping machine : as the name implies, this machine seals boxes on the conveyor belt.  Your employees no longer have to perform any physical actions and a lot of repetitive work is lost for them.

7. Change positions regularly and keep moving

Taking sufficient walking breaks, switching between working upright and sitting… It all helps to regulate the blood flow in your veins. Anyone who has to work in an upright position for a long time can benefit from a standing mat or anti-fatigue mat. The technology behind this mat is simple and ingenious at the same time. An anti-fatigue mat has a grooved structure with studs. This subtly creates an uneven surface that stimulates your feet and legs to keep moving. This can then enhance blood flow and prevent circulation problems.

A second aid is the sit-stand chair. You can easily switch between sitting and standing while working with this type of chair. Thanks to the gas spring under the seat, you can adjust the height in no time.

 

8. Use materials that make your work easier

A number of products are designed in such a way that they ensure that you have to put less pressure on your joints and muscles. So they can significantly ease your work. Let’s take a look at some popular tools that can help prevent workplace injury:

  • Safety Knives designed to limit any danger of injury, safety knives make it easy to cut and slice elements while working without running the risk of cutting yourself due to their retractable and ergonomic designs.
  • Lobby pan and Brush set, sweeping the floor is a constant task and sweeping into a pan can present a risk of energy with frequent needs to bend over. By using this handy pan and brush set, you can sweep the floors without risking a lower back injury.

9. Wear appropriate work clothes

The clothes don’t just make the man – they can also help prevent injury. Therefore, make sure that your employees wear work clothes that are adapted to their physique and working conditions. Among other things, it is important that they wear flexible clothes that do not hinder their movements. When it comes to personal protective equipment, you should look out for:

  • Smart Tip Gloves these clever gloves make it easy to operate touch screens and other smart devices without having to remove your protective handwear first. With a grip-enhancing palm as well, they make working in dangerous conditions easy.
  • Centurion Safety Helmet the importance of wearing a safety helmet in situations that demand it cannot be understated – one of the most vital instruments in preventing workplace injury.
  • Grip Work Gloves losing your grip during work hours can be incredibly costly for the company and for the worker, using gloves with an enhanced grip can help minimise the dangerous
  • Safety Wellington Boot keeping your balance and making sure your feet are kept safe is an essential in some work spaces, make sure you have tread and protection with a pair of wellington boots.

10. Control the temperature

Icy cold in winter, sweltering hot in summer… Temperatures can fluctuate quite a bit in a warehouse. Did you know that a work environment that is too hot or too cold can contribute to serious workplace injuries? So always keep a close eye on the weather forecast and anticipate extreme conditions.

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