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Preventing Repetitive Stress Injuries Should Be a Priority for Employers

It is so easy for employers to overlook ergonomics. Despite growing research on the importance of proper positioning, too many workers are subjected to workplaces that lead to repetitive stress injuries.

Workers' compensation claims are often the result of this seeming indifference to worker wellness.

It shouldn't take a workplace injury, however, to convince employers to do the right thing ergonomically. This means making sure sound ergonomic procedures are used at work stations - and in all other places where employees work.

Repetitive stress injuries do not only occur in offices where people type all day long. They also occur in manufacturing jobs and on construction sites. In fact, as many as 1 in 3 injuries in the construction industry could be prevented by using proper ergonomic procedures.

U.S. employers frequently fail to use such procedures. As a result, according to one estimate, the cost to employers of repetitive stress injuries (RSI) may be over $1 billion a year.

Proper ergonomic procedures may start with things like the positioning of computer keyboards or office chairs. More broadly, however, ergonomics involves proactively identifying risk factors that can cause employees to develop injuries such as musculoskeletal disorders.

Once that evaluation is done, the next step is to determine how to adjust the workplace accordingly. This can be done by altering the physical layout or through administrative measures like job rotation.

But ergonomics, at its best, isn't merely about avoiding injury. For an employer that takes the high road, it's also about creating a high-productivity environment.

Source: "Occupational Health & News Roundup," The Pump Handle, 3-8-12

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