When we think of work-related injuries, office employees or those who sit at desks for hours don't often come to mind. According to an article in EHS Today, however, those who sit for long periods of time are at risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders.
WebMD defines musculoskeletal disorders as "pain that affects the muscles, ligaments and tendons, and bones." Postural strain and prolonged immobilization are noted as leading risk factors.
Studies conducted by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have found back problems to be a prevalent issue in the workplace. A survey reveals that 63.5 percent of female participants and 39.7 percent of male participants reported suffering from neck and shoulder pain due to their job. Specifically, lower back pain was reported by 51.4 percent of women and 44 percent of men.
How poor ergonomics leads to musculoskeletal pain
Low back pain and other issues with the spine and neck are often caused by poor sitting posture. According to ESH Today, the body's supporting muscles may weaken from long periods of sitting. This eventually places increased pressure on the vertebral disks of the spine. The resulting symptoms often include:
- Compromised mobility
- Issues with digestion and respiration
- Poor concentration
According to Malte Lenkeit, ergonomics consultant at the German office furniture manufacturer Dauphin, the office chairs provided by employers are key to preventing work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
“Office chairs should keep the vertebral column in its natural double-S shape and support an upright position – by an automatic inclination of the upper part of the chair and a permanent counter pressure produced by the backrest in the process," he said.
Importance of improved ergonomics
Preventing musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace not only reduces workers' compensation costs, but also improves productivity and promotes a healthy work environment.
The EHS Today article notes that this can be accomplished by utilizing the Ergonomics Assessment Worksheet (EAWS), which was developed by German MTM-Vereiningun e.V.
The process involves conducting an on-site inspection where overall workflow is analyzed and noting two key issues:
- Static body posture of employees
- Forces that impact the entire body, upper body or fingers
The work environment is then given a "risk score," which employers can consider when making improvements to workplace ergonomics.
If your job-related conditions resulted in back pain, neck pain, or any other condition that impacts your ability to perform your job, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits while you recover. An attorney at Paul McAndrew Law Firm, PLLC can help you weigh your legal options and guide you through this complex process.
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