An Overview of Ergonomics and Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)
To understand the relationship between ergonomics and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), you’ll need to know what each of these terms means on its own. Let’s start with an overview of ergonomics and MSDs.
What is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics is the study of how people interact with their work environments on a daily basis. It involves adapting jobs to fit the worker, rather than adapting workers to fit the jobs. Ergonomics may include adjustments to workstations, displays, controls, safety devices, \tools, and more.
Ergonomics often takes into considerations the different concepts of wellness. According to the WELL Building Standard, these seven concepts are air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.
What is a Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD)?
A musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) is any injury or disorder that affects the body’s musculoskeletal system. This may include muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels, discs, and more.
MSDs are caused by stress to the body, which can be a one-time stress (a sudden injury) or the result of repetitive strain and motion. Because of this, MSDs are often called “repetitive motion injuries”, “overuse injuries”, “or “repetitive stress injuries”.
Some of the most common MSDs are caused by repeating the same motion over and over during the workday. These include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, tennis elbow, muscle strains or sprains, tension neck syndrome, trigger finger, and more.
Workplace Risk Factors of MSDs
When any of of the seven wellness concepts are less than ideal in an employee’s work environment, they may be at risk for developing MSDs. More specifically, if an employee is sitting or standing incorrectly for long periods of time, is repeating the same tasks over and over again, or is required to perform tasks with high force loads, they can be at risk for MSDs. Risks are greater in employees with improper work methods or improperly designed workstations/tools/equipment.
How to Prevent MSDs Through Ergonomics
Though the physical and health risks of sitting at a computer might not seem as dangerous as operating heavy machinery, office work can be just as dangerous. As an employer, you can help your employees live better—in and out of the workplace—by implementing an ergonomics and wellness plan in your workplace.
With the help of an ergonomics wellness coach, you can help your employees set up their ergonomic workstations to help prevent MSDs. Our ergonomics experts can teach your employees the proper ways to set up their chairs, computer monitors, keyboards, mice, phones, and more. We can assist you in choosing the right furniture and products, including adjustable chairs, desks, and other ergonomics products.
Through properly set up ergonomic workstations and company-wide wellness plans, you can reduce the risks of MSDs among your employees. Learn more about our wellness services below and contact us to schedule a consultation with an ergonomics expert.