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Preventing injuries

February is Ergonomics Awareness Month

Work-related musculoskeletal disorder injuries are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time.

February is Ergonomics Awareness Month, a time to learn how to prevent musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) injuries in the workplace.

MSDs affect one or more parts of the musculoskeletal system, the soft tissue — muscles, tendons and ligaments — and bone structure of the body. Ergonomics evaluates how certain tasks are performed in the workplace to help employees avoid MSD injuries.

Work-related MSDs are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Of the more than 30,000 recorded accidents involving Postal Service employees last year, almost 9,000 were MSD-related.

Fifty-four percent of MSD injuries were related to posture, repetitive motion risk factors and force. Most affected backs, shoulders and wrists. Some injuries can take weeks, months or years to develop.

However, injuries can sometimes be prevented by making minor changes.

For instance, tasks that require extended reach could be modified by moving objects closer or by using a reach pole.

Similarly, repetitive motions can be reduced by altering how workstations are situated.

The A to Z Safety Topics Blue page has more information on ergonomics, including safety stand-up talks.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites also have information.