Effectiveness of Workplace Based Interventions to Reduce Musculoskeletal Pain-Related Sickness

Office worker at his desk

Musculoskeletal pain is related to injuries of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, and spinal disc. Some types of work contribute or increase this type of injury. Tasks that lead to this condition are routine lifting of heavy objects, performing repetitive tasks, exposure to constant vibration in using machinery, and working with the neck in a chronic flexion position.

Most of these disorders are caused by lifting, climbing, reaching, and repetitive tasks. These injuries lead to back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, hernia, tears and sprains. These injuries cost employers money like increased healthcare costs, absenteeism, workman’s compensation, and disability claims. These are good reason to develop an intervention program to reduce injury for musculoskeletal diseases.

Type of Injuries and Jobs Associated With Increased Risk of Disease

Carpal tunnel syndrome affect the use of the hands. It is associated with machine operators, fabricators, technical support, sales, and administrative support. Back injury and pain are associated with machine operators, fabricators, laborer, precision production, craft and repairs. Arthritis is another disease that develops in the workplace. It is associated with mining, construction, agriculture, and the service industry.

Developing a Workplace Program for Musculoskeletal Diseases

The first place to start is to find ways to reduce workplace hazards using engineering. Fine ways to transport products that makes it easier on the employees. This might mean using mechanical devices to help with heavy load lifting and carrying. Other methods might be designing work stations with adjustable benches or chairs, and placing tools and materials within short distances.

Administrative changes might be reducing the the shift times to shorter hours so employees do not work long hours or providing more breaks during the day. Companies can rotate workers on different jobs that are physically demanding. Training employees on safety and proper use of equipment and tools is important too.

Training employees how to us safety equipment is another aspect of a good prevention program. This means wearing googles, eyewear, earplugs, safety shoes, and hard hats when needed. You might require workers to purchase their own equipment and provide some of it. Training workers how to bend, lift, or climb properly is another way to help with prevention.

Health Related Program

Companies can offer fitness and exercise programs to employees. Providing a fitness center where employees can workout during breaks on exercise machines is one option. Companies should encourage employees to walk outside on their lunch time or break with other employees. Hiring someone to come in that talks about a healthy diet and exercise and meets with employees regularly to help them lose weight is another option.

Contact a local medical group that specializes in arthritis and musculoskeletal diseases to talk with employees. They can provide preventative information, ways to manage pain through exercise and contact for treatment when the illness arises. Design a bulletin board of information with doctors or medical teams that specialize in this type of illness.

Programs should focus on self care, physical activity, communicating with doctors and employers and goal setting. Training management is another aspect of a good intervention program to raise awareness of the problem.

Dr. Luis Fandos is a certified anesthesiologist from Babylon, NY.

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