MUSCULOSKELETAL INJURIES SAFE LIFTING The Ontario Health & Safety Act (OHSA) outlines an employer’s responsibility for the safety of their employees as follows - “a supervisor shall take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker “ R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1, s. 27. • The Occupational Health & Safety Act (posted on the health & safety board in your operation) stipulates that your Employer and Supervisor must take every reasonable precaution to protect you from injury Workplace Injury Statistics Unfortunately, injuries sometimes still occur. Here are a couple of interesting Ontario workplace statistics. 85.5% of workers in the Province of Ontario will suffer a work-related back injury over the course of their life. The average claim cost per year is roughly $55,000.00 Musculoskeletal Injuries (MSI) The most common injuries are back injuries which are considered part of the MSI group. MSI’s are a group of conditions that involve primarily the nerves, tendons and muscles, and supporting structures. They represent a wide range of disorders, which can differ in severity from mild periodic symptoms to severe chronic and serious conditions. Carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and lower back pain are all examples of Musculoskeletal injuries or disorders. Who is at risk for an MSI? Everyone is at risk but MSI’s can be avoided Symptoms of MSI’s Pain Stiffness Early fatigue or lack of endurance Decreased strength/weakness Tingling, numbness, burning, loss of sensation Heaviness Sensation of instability Symptoms develop over weeks, months, or years and become more disabling if they are poorly managed. Risk Factors Repetitive movements with lack of rest/recovery time (ex. using a screwdriver or doing computer work) Using excessive force Awkward/Incorrect posture when lifting Bending, twisting, overhead reaching (ex. movement and storage of supplies) Sustained or static working positions (ex. sitting at a computer desk or standing at a cash register) Inadequate warm-up and preparation Improper lifting technique (ex. using one’s back, not legs, to lift) Risk increases depending on how long a worker is exposed to the contributing factors, how often they are exposed, and at what level the exposure is. Prevention Some simple ways to prevent MSIs are to: Eliminate or reduce exposure to practices that cause injury Redesigning the workplace environment with ergonomic considerations in mind Educate workers on safe-working techniques (i.e. lifting) Safe Lifting Techniques – When lifting an item, the following safe lifting techniques should be employed. Use a handcart whenever possible Size up the weight and shape of the object to determine if it is a one or two person job Have a firm grip on the object Keep the back as straight as possible (tuck in chin, no twisting) Lift with leg muscles, not back muscles Keep the load as close as possible to your body Get help for heavy or awkward loads and lift in tandem. Make sure that there is a ‘coordinator’ for all team lifts As part of the Internal Responsibility System, employees are responsible to report any injuries or hazards that could result in an injury to their Employer immediately. In the event that you do sustain an injury on the job, you must report the injury to your supervisor immediately. In the event that you feel that you are at risk to sustaining a MSI, please report the unsafe condition to your supervisor immediately.