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Musculoskeletal disorders and the workplace

In Louisiana and other areas of the country, workplace injuries are not limited to factories and physically strenuous jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest injury rates in 2011 included health care, retail, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing, and construction. Musculoskeletal disorders accounted for nearly a third of the injuries sustained in the workplace. These injuries impact the muscles, tendons and nerves of the affected area.

MSDs can be caused by several different factors, and the risk is increased when workers are lifting heavy items, bending and twisting, moving heavy load manually, and performing tasks on a repetitive basis. It is the responsibility of employers to create a safe working environment for their teams. This includes involving workers in work site assessments, creating solutions and implementing a better environment. The full support of management is required in order to roll out programs and make them more successful in the long term.

Additionally, businesses are expected to cooperate with and listen to workers to identify dangerous situations, develop solutions and provide training in the new programs. Progress should also be evaluated regularly to determine if changes are proving effective or if adjustments need to be made. Companies also have resources available to them through OSHA on-site consultation services.

Workers have a right to a safe working environment, and there are legal steps that may be taken to help force changes in the workplace. Workers who have concerns about MSDs can speak with an attorney to learn what their options are and take steps to protect their rights. Those who have suffered a workplace injury may be able to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, "Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace", November 02, 2014

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