It is important for all workers to remember the risk of injury involved in your workplace and work toward keeping yourself and your co-workers safe while on the job.The Ontario Ministry of Labour defines workplace pains and strains as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that develop as a result of repetitive, forceful, or awkward movements on bones, joints, ligaments, and other soft tissue.
Symptoms of MSDs include: discomfort, pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, and restricted movement.
There are many injuries that workers can sustain if not careful, they include: back pain, muscle strain, carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, and shoulder pain, just to name a few.
It is the responsibility of the employee AND the employer to create a work environment that is safe and free of risk of workplace pains and strains.
What type of work could be considered prone to strains?
Here are 7 things to look for, courtesy of the Ontario Ministry of Labour:
- Work that places elbows above shoulder height or hands behind body
- Frequent bending or twisting of the neck
- Prolonged grasping and holding of objects, frequent wrist movements
- Frequent lifting of items below knee height or above the shoulders
- Frequent bending or twisting at the waist
- Tasks that involve carrying, lifting, pushing, or pulling heavy or awkward loads
- Spending long periods of time with a body part held in one position
If your work requires you to complete any of the tasks above, don’t worry! This work can be done free of injury as long as employees and employers work together to create a safe and informed work environment.
Below are tips for workers and employers to help reduce and eliminate the risk of workplace injury.
Eliminating Workplace Pains and Strains – Employees:
» Use devices whenever possible: using machines or harnesses to help move materials will greatly reduce the risk of injury associated with heavy or awkward lifting
» Get help: ask other workers to help you if you are unable to lift something on your own. If you’re not completely confident you can do a task without risking injury be sure to ask for help
» Keep your area clean: it is important to keep your workplace clean and free of clutter to avoid any injury related to falling, tripping, or crashing into items in the way of your work. Having a clean environment means knowing where your work tools and materials are and knowing you and your co-workers aren’t at risk of injury
» Participate in proper lifting: a major component when doing repetitive bending or twisting on the job is to ensure you are lifting properly. Dangerous lifting can result in back pain, muscle strain, and other workplace injuries. Repetitive incorrect lifting can also lead to health problems in the future. For proper lifting technique click here.
» Keep yourself informed: participate in health and safety training offered by your employer to ensure you are following proper protocol and procedures designed to keep you safe in the workplace. Make sure you know which personal protective equipment you are required to wear and follow all safety instructions – it could save your life.
Eliminating Workplace Pains and Strains – Employers: (via the Ontario MOL)
» Advise and train employees about risk factors in their job/workplace
» Encourage workers to participate in health and safety programs
» Identify and assess job related risk factors
» Put controls in place to reduce worker exposure to risk factors
» Follow-up to make sure preventative measures are working
It is important for everyone to work together in the workplace to reduce the risk of injury. By following the tips above both employees and employers can create an environment free of workplace pains and strains.