Musculoskeletal Disorders and Workplace Factors

Critical review of the relationship between musculoskeletal disorders and workplace factors such as job design and work organization.Musculoskeletal Disorders and Workplace Factors

Download PDF of “Musculoskeletal Disorders and Workplace Factors”

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are injuries or disorders that affect the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, or other soft tissues of the body. MSDs can cause pain, stiffness, numbness, tingling, or reduced function in the affected areas. MSDs are common among workers who perform tasks that involve physical factors such as force, repetition, posture, or vibration. Some examples of MSDs are neck pain, shoulder tendinitis,  carpal tunnel syndrome, and low back pain.

NIOSH Review Findings

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has conducted a critical review of the epidemiologic evidence for work-related MSDs of the neck, upper extremity, and low back . The review summarizes the scientific literature on the relationship between MSDs and workplace factors. For instance, job design, work organization, and psychosocial factors. The review also evaluates the quality and strength of the evidence. To clarify, it identifies gaps in knowledge, and provides recommendations for future research and prevention.

The main findings of the review are:

  • There is a large body of credible epidemiologic research that shows a consistent relationship between MSDs and certain physical factors, especially at higher exposure levels.
  • The evidence is strongest for work-related MSDs of the hand/wrist, followed by the shoulder and the elbow. The evidence is less consistent for work-related MSDs of the neck and the low back.
  • There is limited evidence for the role of individual factors, such as age, gender, and anthropometry, in modifying the risk of MSDs. There is also limited evidence for the role of psychosocial factors, such as job satisfaction, job stress, and social support, in influencing the occurrence or severity of MSDs.
  • There is a need for more research on the dose-response relationship between physical factors and MSDs, the interaction between physical and psychosocial factors, the effectiveness of ergonomic interventions in reducing MSDs, and the cost-benefit analysis of ergonomic programs.

Things to Remember

The review provides useful information for employers, workers, health professionals, and researchers who are interested in preventing work-related MSDs. The review also highlights the importance of ergonomics in designing tasks, work spaces, controls, displays, tools, lighting, and equipment to fit workers’ physical capabilities and limitations.
You can read the full review online or download it as a PDF file . You can also find more information about ergonomics and MSDs on the NIOSH website.


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Ergonomic Solutions for Foundry Workers

These workers face various hazards that can impact their health and well-being. This guide provides ergonomic solutions for foundry workers.

Ergonomic Solutions for Foundry Workers

Download the OSHA PDF • In the dynamic world of foundries, where molten metal transforms into custom castings, the intricate processes involved demand both precision and diligence. However, within this industrious realm, workers face various hazards that can impact their health and well-being. In this article, we delve into the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) comprehensive publication addressing ergonomic solutions tailored specifically for foundry workers.

Understanding the Foundry Environment

Foundry work encompasses a series of meticulous tasks, including crafting casting patterns, assembling molds, refining molten metal, pouring it into molds, and meticulously cleaning the finished parts. The environment, though rich in craftsmanship, exposes workers to an array of potential hazards, ranging from chemical exposures to physical risks like dust, silica, lead, noise, heat stress, and gases.

Ergonomic Risks in Foundry Work

While various hazards demand attention, this publication from OSHA focuses primarily on the ergonomic risks prevalent among foundry workers. These include:

1. Exerting high levels of force to handle or move materials
2. Repetitive tasks leading to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs)
3. Working in awkward postures
4. Prolonged maintenance of static body postures
5. Contact with sharp edges that can penetrate the skin
6. Exposure to vibrating tools and surfaces

Among foundry workers, injuries to the low back and upper limbs are unfortunately common MSDs. These can result from repetitive tasks, prolonged exertion of force, or the use of vibrating tools such as chipping hammers and rotary grinders. Early symptoms of MSDs include pain, restricted joint movement, swelling, numbness, and tingling, typically developing gradually over time due to intensive work.

OSHA’s Proactive Approach

To address these ergonomic challenges, OSHA collaborated with the Northeast Wisconsin Foundry Ergonomics Partnership (NEWFEP). This partnership involved visits to various foundries, each specializing in different products and employing diverse workforce sizes. The proactive implementation of ergonomic solutions resulted in a significant reduction in work-related MSDs among partnership members.

Benefits of Ergonomic Solutions

Companies that adopted ergonomic solutions witnessed a range of benefits, including:

  • Substantial reduction in work-related MSDs
  • Lower absenteeism rates
  • Increased worker productivity and efficiency
  • Improved product quality

Worker testimonials further underscored the positive impact of these solutions. In a safer and more comfortable work environment, employees reported experiencing less fatigue, thereby contributing to enhanced morale.

Bottom Line: Safety & Efficiency

In the pursuit of safety and efficiency, OSHA’s handbook on ergonomics for foundry workers serves as a valuable resource. By addressing the specific risks associated with this industry and providing practical solutions, the guide not only safeguards the health of workers but also contributes to the overall success and well-being of foundry operations. Embracing ergonomic principles is not just a regulatory requirement; it is a pathway to a safer, more productive, and harmonious foundry environment.

Thank you for joining us on this informative journey into foundry work environments. Stay tuned for more insights and tips!


More Tools & Resources from Peak Ergonomics
Contact Us About Reducing Workplace Injuries
Healthy Employees are the Bottom Line! – Learn More!


Health Hazard Evaluation Report

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