Workplace pains and strains are also known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), Cumulative Trauma Disorder (CTD) and Repetitive Motion Injury (RMI). These types of injuries affect the muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves.
MSDs develop as a result of the effects of repetitive, forceful or awkward movements on bones, joints, ligaments and other soft tissues. Workers may experience symptoms such as discomfort, pain, numbness, tingling, weakness and restricted movements.
MSD is not a medical diagnosis; it is an umbrella term for a group of injuries. Some of these injuries include:
• Back Pain (low back strain, etc)
• Muscle Strain
• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS)
• Rotator Cuff Syndrome
• Tennis Elbow (epicondylitis)
• Shoulder Pain (shoulder myalgia)
Workers are more likely to suffer an MSD if they perform jobs with MSD risk factors that include repetitive movements, forceful efforts, and fixed or awkward postures.
Why should you be concerned about workplace pains and strains?
Workplace pains and strains can be serious and disabling for workers, causing pain and suffering ranging from discomfort to severe disability. The consequences are far reaching and can affect every aspect of a worker's life.
Workplace pains and strains can be prevented!
There is a strong link between exposure to the work-related risk factors for MSD and the development of these disorders.
These injuries can be prevented! Taking appropriate steps to eliminate, or reduce the exposure to the work-related risk factors, will minimize the risk of MSDs in the workplace.
MSD prevention can be simple and inexpensive. Often making straight-forward and basic changes can reduce MSD risks significantly.
Prevention is good business
As with almost all health and safety issues it is less expensive to prevent an injury than it is to make changes and corrections after an injury has occurred. Don’t wait for an MSD to happen. Taking proactive steps now to reduce your workers’ exposure to MSD risk factors will pay off in the future.
Having a program to prevent MSDs has been shown to have many positive outcomes:
• Healthy workers, who are free from discomfort, are more efficient
• Reduced WSIB lost-time injury claims and the associated direct and indirect costs
• Improved ability to bring workers back to work if they have been injured
• Less strenuous and more straight-forward job tasks makes it easier to train and place workers
• Improved ability to retain experienced, knowledgeable and skilled workers
• Improved employee satisfaction, morale and well-being
• Reduced administrative costs related to claims management and investigations
• Increased quality, productivity and profits
Preventive steps for employers
Regardless of whether or not workers have reported MSD symptoms, or whether or not they have filed WSIB claims, MSD prevention needs to be a key part of a workplace health and safety program. MSD risk factors should be handled like any other workplace hazard. Employers should:
• Advise and train workers about the MSD risk factors in their job and in the workplace
• Encourage workers to participate in the health and safety program through early reporting of MSD symptoms or concerns
• Identify and assess job related MSD risk factors
• Put in place controls to reduce workers’ exposure to MSD risk factors
• Follow-up to make sure preventive measures are working
Workplace pains and strains and the law
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) requires employers to ensure that workers are aware of the hazards associated with the workers’ job and workplace, and that controls are implemented to reduce the risk of injury from these hazards. MSD risk factors in the workplace must be treated the same as any other workplace hazard.
Emergencies : Fire
When there’s a fire inside your building, you need to get out immediately! Since smoke from a fire can make it difficult to see, it’s important to know the best way to exit the building. How do you know this? You should have a plan before a fire even happens. Here’s how to be prepared before a fire:
• Have a plan and practice it. This plan should include fire drills. A fire drill can help you practice leaving your building quickly and safely. Don’t forget to talk about different ways you can get out. Learn more about having a disaster plan.
During a fire, you should do the following:
• Use a fire extinguisher to put out small fires. You can also use water if the fire is not electrical or chemical. Do NOT try to put out a fire that you can’t control.
• If there’s a fire that is too big to put out, leave the building immediately. You might not have much time before the fire spreads, so don’t even stop to call 911. Once you’re outside and safe, you can use a cell phone or a neighbor’s phone to call.
• If your clothes catch fire, do NOT run. This could make the fire spread more quickly. Instead, stop, drop, and roll! In other words, stop, drop to the ground, cover your face with your hands, and roll back and forth until the fire is put out.
• If there is smoke in your house, cover your nose and mouth with a small cloth and stay low to the ground as you’re leaving. Smoke is very dangerous to breathe and difficult to see through. Since smoke naturally rises, you should crawl on your hands and knees to exit the building.