Preventing cumulative trauma disorder in the workplace
Preventing cumulative trauma disorder begins with understanding what it is and how it occurs. Known as CTD, this disorder happens when excessive wear to the joints, muscles, and tendons occurs over time. The micro-injuries happen over and over, slowly wounding the worker. Eventually, enough injury has taken place, symptoms like swelling, aches, and pain begin to appear. Improper ergonomic body positioning and repetitive job tasks are the most common causes of cumulative trauma injuries. It isn't just assembly or production workers who are at risk, office workers are also exposed to these types of injuries. In order to reduce or eliminate cumulative trauma disorder in the workplace, employers and employees should evaluate their job tasks and identify potential risks. The four most common factors that contribute to these injuries are:
- Over flexion or extension (bending)
- Unnatural body positioning
- Repetitive movement
- Strain or force applied during the task
The good news is all of these risks can be reduced. If you stand at a workstation assembling parts or if you are seated at a desk typing, pay close attention to the following points. Some of them are simple and can be applied immediately. Others may require some engineering or modification to the way the task is completed.
- Pay attention to posture
- Adjust the height of your workstation to reduce over-extending arms or back
- Move monitors or other visual tools so your head and neck are positioned in a neutral state
- Take short breaks to stretch and de-stress the body.
- Use ergonomically designed tools to promote proper body positioning during the task
- Use braces and supports to help limit over-flexion or overextension in the body
- Adopt a healthy lifestyle
Using the tips above and incorporating simple changes to the workplace are all contributors to preventing cumulative trauma disorders. Raising the height of a chair or workstation offers surprising results. Bringing the work task closer to the worker's body is another common fix. While not the first choice, even protective gear and ergonomic supports can help reduce further injury.
As always, talk with your doctor about your work task and the risks you encounter. Also, consider adopting a healthy lifestyle. It can't hurt. If your company has a safety representative, talk with them about any concerns you may have with your workstation and work together to make improvements. Happy and healthy employees are generally more productive and preventing cumulative trauma injuries should be a common goal.
MFASCO Health & Safety CTD Prevention, Protection, and Resources
Many jobs demand repetitive movements for hours, and the human body eventually wears down. This means prioritizing the health and safety of your team members is critical for long-term success. Since recovery from CTD often requires weeks or months of not doing the job that caused the injury, prevention is the only meaningful approach to CTD. Help your team and help your numbers with this protective gear and list of additional information.
Workplace Safety Products and Accessories
Additional Resources for Workplace Safety