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Permanent impairment may be avoided by ergonomic changes

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says injuries caused by ergonomic problems in workplaces such as factories, stores and offices cost businesses more and more each year. Poor workplace design affects employee health and reduces productivity and efficiency. Records show that workers' compensation costs related to nonfatal injuries nationwide, including in Ohio, are an estimated total of $60 billion -- often involving permanent impairment for workers.

Statistics show that one in three occupational injuries or diseases every year is a musculoskeletal disorder and that injuries caused by ergonomic-related issues produce more days off work than any other types of injuries. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health says poor office design causes 20 percent of missed work days nationwide. The agency says ergonomic changes can reduce the cost of risk and injury while boosting productivity and the bottom line.

Overexertion injuries such as pushing, lifting, holding, pulling, throwing and carrying can also be limited by ergonomic changes. An example of a successful change is the adjustment of an assembly line parts bin to reduce reaching. It produced a 4 percent improvement in assembly speed while cutting the risk of shoulder injuries in the line workers. Also, workers no longer had to carry heavy boxes to the point of use more than 200 times every shift after the pallets were moved closer to that point. In another case, the upper back and neck discomfort from continuous backward neck bending was eliminated when the company lowered the computer monitors in the offices.

Ergonomic injuries can cause chronic pain and even permanent impairment. Unfortunately, victims may find it difficult to prove such injuries to be work-related. Although the Ohio workers' compensation insurance company might cover this type of injury, victims may find it helpful to seek the support and guidance of an experienced workers' compensation attorney.

Source: ehstoday.com, "Changing Your Work Environment to Reduce Ergonomic Injuries", Jeffrey Smagacz, Oct. 25, 2017

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