Identifying the Ergonomic Risk Factors of a Job
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Brown, Nellie J.
[Excerpt] When we experience overexertion of muscles and joints, common symptoms include soreness, pain, discomfort, redness and swelling, limited range of motion, stiffness in joints, weakness and clumsiness, numbing/ tingling sensations (“pins and needles”), popping and cracking noises in the joints, and “burning” sensations in muscles. We need to pay attention to these warnings and act quickly to prevent trauma from becoming more serious. For repetitive jobs, over time, cumulative trauma injuries can develop. At first, our symptoms of pain and/or weakness are felt during work and disappear during off-hours or rest. Usually the body recovers and the problem is completely reversible at this stage. But, if the workplace conditions of the task are not changed, the injury can progress to the point that our symptoms no longer disappear completely between work shifts. This means that our bodies are unable to completely repair the affected tissues during rest. We may find that our symptoms are beginning to interfere with our ability to perform our usual work activities. We might find that we are moving more slowly, taking care how we bend or reach, conserving our movements just to get through the day. But, if the work conditions are still not changed and the trauma is allowed to continue, we may find that the pain persists even at rest, even to the point that we have trouble sleeping. At this stage, severe pain, limited mobility, loss of sensation or muscle weakness can make it impossible to perform most tasks. We find both our work and our home life affected – brushing teeth, combing hair, picking up objects, getting up and down on the toilet – everyday life is impacted.
ergonomics; workplace injuries; repetitive stress
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