Safety in manufacturing workplaces often prioritizes the prevention of serious accidents like slip and falls, crushing, and electrocution. But more attention needs to focus on stopping "ergonomic" injuries.
Ergonomic injuries typically develop over time due to repetitive actions that put a person's body under unnatural stress.
When workers are injured on the job in California, they are almost always eligible to receive Workers' Compensation benefits for medical expenses and lost wages. This program is available to people seriously hurt or made ill at work, usually due to a workplace accident or hazardous workplace environment. However, actually getting the benefits you deserve is not always easy. For many workers, a workers' comp attorney helped them get the money they deserve.
California Manufacturing MSDs, Injuries
In manufacturing, ergonomic injuries often involve musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). MSDs typically involve damage to soft tissue, ligaments, tendons, etc.
Common manufacturing MSDs include:
- Ligament strain
- Rotator Cuff Tendonitis
- Thoracic Outlet Compression
- Tension Neck Syndrome
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Muscle and/or tendon strain
- Back pain
- Sprains, strains, tears
While such injures are common, it is possible to reduce the risk of employee MSDs and other ergonomic injuries with education, personal protective equipment (PPE), and possible improvements to workflow or workstations.
The following are the types of movements and actions a manufacturing worker may want to avoid to prevent the development of a painful MSD.
Repetitive Manufacturing Work And Injury Risk
- Arms Above Head
The body is not meant to do prolonged work with arms overhead. In fact, too much of this type of work can cause severe and lifelong injuries like muscle spasms, shoulder strain, and inflammation. To reduce the risk of injury, people should perform as much of their work as possible in the "power zone" - the area between the mid-thigh and mid-chest. This is where a person has the most strength and flexibility to lift (with elbows at 90 degrees) and do other work without injury.
Your back is designed to perform 35 degrees of rotation - at max. But even frequent twisting within this range can lead to injuries like a hernia, back pain, and nerve damage. To reduce the risk of injury, employees should move their whole bodies instead of twisting.
Bending forward, say to pick something up, can put a lot of pressure on the lower back (lumbar spine) and back muscles. To avoid this type of injury, it may be necessary to change workstations or provide PPE.
- Non-neutral wrists
A non-neutral wrist position is any position that is not straight. Performing work with bent wrists can cause crippling hand damage over time. Hands have the most grip strength and safe flexibility when they are straight, like the way they are when you shake hands. Education and PPE may be enough to avoid a serious wrist injury.
- Kneeling, squatting
As people age, the amount of fluid in their knees decreases, providing less and less protection for smooth and pain-free movement. Too much kneeling or squatting on the job can be especially risky for older workers. This doesn't mean employers have to force young employees to do jobs that put a lot of strain on the knees. Regardless of age, everyone deserves a safe work environment. PPE and engineering improvements to workstations or flow can reduce the risk of injury.
Applying For California Workers' Comp
When someone gets hurt on the job, they need time to heal. They also deserve to receive workers' comp benefits. Applying for compensation while healing from a terrible and painful workplace injury or illness can be difficult for many people. The California workers' compensation system can be difficult to deal with as well. And even if they do accept your workers' comp application, they might give you far less than what you deserve. This is one of the many reasons people hire workers' comp attorneys to handle the application process.
Help For Injured Workers
McLaughlin & Sanchez is an established San Diego-based workers' compensation law firm that has a reputation for getting injured people the money they need and deserve. Our attorneys understand how the legal system works and how to make it work for you.
In addition to handling the workers' comp process, we will investigate whether there is a third party liable for your injuries and hold them responsible.
Don't lose out on benefits because of a missed deadline, improperly filling out a document, or other technicalities. Contact McLaughlin & Sanchez for a free workers' compensation case evaluation to learn more about how we can help you.