Workplace Safety and Repetitive Motion Injuries

In the modern world, work place safety increasingly means ergonomically designed work stations for workers. What is Ergonomics? The word Ergonomics comes from two Greek words, "ergon" meaning work, and "nomos" meaning laws.

The folks at the Ergonomics Division of UCLA's Office of Environment, Health and Safety Ergonomics is concerned with the "fit" between people and their work. It is the science of fitting jobs to people. It focuses on designing work stations, tools, and work tasks for safety, efficiency, and comfort. Effective ergonomic design reduces discomfort and injuries and increased job satisfaction and productivity.

The science of ergonomics seeks to minimize work place injuries and maximize production and efficiency. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that employers maintain a safe work environment for workers. Employees who are required to work in environments where no thought of ergonomics has been implemented can suffer various work related injuries that can lead to long term disability.

Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are commonly associated with a work environment that has not implemented of does not understand the importance of ergonomics. Musculo Skeletal Disorders (MSD) and Cumulative trauma disorders can also be attributed to work environments where the science of ergonomics has not been adequately considered.

RSI is the Nation's most common and costly occupational health problem, affecting hundreds of thousands of American workers, and costing more than $20 billion a year in workers compensation according to the U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly two thirds of all occupational illnesses reported by U.S. workers were caused by repeated trauma to their upper body, (the wrist, elbow, or shoulder).

Ergonomics is a science that seeks to minimize the impact of repeated actions by workers thereby improving production and efficiency, and limiting injuries. Some good examples of ergonomic design can be found in corporate offices where employees are required to use repetitive motions to perform their jobs adequately and professionally. Ergonomically designed chairs with good lumbar back support, low light emitting computer monitors, and ergonomically designed keyboards for minimal stress on the hands and wrists are some of the examples found in offices where ergonomics have been considered to improve efficiency and production. Strict adherence to breaks can also be an important part of ensuring employees is minimally affected by the repetitive motions of their jobs.

Only about half of the nation's states recognize a standard of ergonomic design for the workplace, but that number will surely increase as the science of ergonomics evolves and the cost of repetitive strain injuries and musculo skeletal disorders continue to rise.

An employer who does not recognize the importance of ergonomic design and is not familiar with the science of ergonomics can be subjected to increased workers compensation claims as well as increased short term and long term disability claims.

A Federal standard of ergonomic design in the workplace, or at minimum a state by state standard would be beneficial to the employer as well as the employee.

Employees have a right to expect a work environment that is safe and uses available technology that minimizes injuries. Implementing an ergonomically designed workplace may increase costs to the employer in the short term, but those costs would be recovered by increased production and efficiency, and a decrease in workers compensation, and short term/ long term disability claims.

If you think you have been injured in an unsafe work environment, and you would like to know if you have a legal claim, an employment lawyer at Angel Law, P.C. can help. Please call Angel Law in Portland Oregon, or visit us at www.AngelLawPC.com