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Helping California workers prevent a repetitive injury

A California resident does not have to work in a hazardous environment to suffer a work-related injury. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as those caused by a repetitive injury can cause serious -- and even permanent -- damage. There are steps that both employers and employees can do in order to reduce the risk of such injuries.

The concept of ergonomics wherein a person's job is fitted to him or her can help reduce the muscle fatigue that leads to injury. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that ergonomics also makes employees more productive, lessens the number of MSDs and can decrease the severity as well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that, in 2011, 33 percent of the injuries reported by workers were from MSDs.

Management and workers need to be involved in the effort to identify problem areas and to participate in training on how to avoid MSDs. Employees should be encouraged to come forward with physical complaints since early detection and implementation of new processes can help avoid serious injury. Once new equipment or processes are being used, management should follow up with employees to be sure the efforts are working. If not, adjustments can be made.

California employees are entitled to a safe work environment, and the use of ergonomics may reduce the likelihood of a worker suffering from a repetitive injury. Sometimes, however, injuries can still occur. Workers' compensation benefits can help injured workers in their recovery from such an injury. Medical costs, lost income and even disability payments could be available, depending on the severity of an injury and whether it is permanent.

Source: osha.gov, "Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace", Oct. 18, 2014

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