Workplace Ergonomics

Amerisafe Group is providing various topics selected by The National Safety Council to focus on throughout the month. Week 2 of National Safety Month is centralized around workplace ergonomics. Below you will find information on ergonomic injuries, OSHA's Processes and Standards for protecting workers.

What are Ergonomic Injuries?

Ergonomic injuries are classified as musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). MSDs can be difficult for a worker to notice until it affects the workers’ daily life and could require surgery. MSDs are present in manufacturing, construction, and even everyday office settings, but these injuries can be prevented.

What do part of the body do Musculoskeletal Disorders Affect?

  • Musculoskeletal disorders affect muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons.

How are ergonomic injuries caused?

  • Most commonly caused by lifting heavy items, bending reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, reaching overhead, working in awkward body postures, and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively.

OSHA’s Process for Protecting Workers

Below is a general approach to correcting ergonomic issues in the workplace per OSHA. Amerisafe Group will utilize a more site-specific plan after an evaluation then construct an ergonomic plan utilizing core concepts of OSHA to reduce workplace injuries and help fit the job to the worker.

  1. Identify the ergonomic problems and hazards of the workplace
  2. Implement solutions to control hazards
  3. Provide management support for the ergonomic program
  4. Involve workers in the solution process
  5. Provide training to employees
  6. Encourage early reporting of MSD’s symptoms
  7. Evaluate the progress of the program continuously

OSHA Standards on Ergonomics

While there is no overall standard to cover ergonomics in all industries, OSHA has released several standards for very specific industries. OSHA calls on the General Duty Clause to cite workplace hazards that affect workers ergonomically.

  • There are some industry-specific standards laid out by OSHA that include meatpacking, nursing homes, retail grocery stores and other industries of similar work.
  • All other industry ergonomics are covered and cited under OSHA’s General Duty Clause.

Worker’s Compensation and Ergonomics

Ergonomic-related injuries account for a significant percentage of Worker’s Compensation injuries and costs. Every year, Liberty Mutual produces their Workplace Safety Index which documents the top ten causes of the most serious workplace injuries – those causing an employee to miss five or more days from work – and ranks them by their direct cost to employers, which consists of medical and lost-wage payments. The graph shows a recent year of data for the Workplace Safety Index. As the graph demonstrates, ergonomic-related injuries account for approximately 33% of the disabling injuries, and approximately 20% of the costs associated with the top ten causes. (NOTE: Data for other years mostly follows this pattern of order of disabling injuries and costs).

Although the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have a standard currently addressing Ergonomics, Amerisafe will use recommendations made by OSHA and requirements set forth by OSHA-approved State Plans to develop a customized Ergonomics Training Course for your company

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