Easing Repetitive Strains
Whether your employees lift 30-pound boxes or perform computer data entry for hours at a time, performing the same motions over and over again can lead to repetitive strain syndrome and, possibly, to time lost from the job.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce repetitive strain injuries. M W, M.D., M.S., is board certified in occupational medicine. She specializes in working with employers to educate them about workplace health and safety. As the medical director for OccNet, Dr. Wsays, “Repetitive strain is a cumulative disorder. Unfortunately, many employees and their supervisors ignore the early warning signs and wait months to seek help.”
The beginning of symptoms may be gradual, but can progress, sometimes to the point where it becomes difficult for the individual to continue working. JK, M.D., M.S., specializes in surgery/occupational and environmental medicine. As the associate medical director for OccNet, he encourages supervisors and employers to be aware of the first signs of repetitive strains so that permanent damage can be avoided.
The first indication of strain may be muscle tightness or cramping in the neck or forearms, or there may be a tingling or numb sensation in the affected area. “There is usually a pattern,” says Dr. K. “During the first few days of the week, you may feel fine. By mid-week, the symptoms are strong. Friday is the worst. But you have the weekend to rest and feel well again by the following Monday.”
Over time, the symptoms become more frequent. But because it is gradual, a repetitive strain injury can be present for several years before medical attention is finally sought. By that time, it is harder to avoid prolonged and costly treatment.
- Modify the employees’ work habits.
- Evaluate employees’ work stations.
- Educate supervisors regarding ergonomic safety.
OccNet physicians regularly visit companies to help employers develop successful safety programs by offering cost-effective, practical solutions. Evaluations may reveal that adjustments are needed in a computer workstation or in the way the operator performs the job.
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