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Understanding Musculoskeletal Injuries and Shipyard Ergonomics

A recent study found that approximately 53% of shipyard workers suffered from musculoskeletal injuries. Are you a shipyard worker looking to better protect your body from MSDs?

Working in the shipyard can take its toll on your musculoskeletal system. From constant lifting and bending to working with machinery that’s not properly set up. It’s easy for an injury or even a lifelong disorder to develop.

It's important to understand musculoskeletal disorders and how to look for MSD hazards. We'll cover common injuries such as tendinitis to training recommendations.

Learn everything you shipyard workers should know about musculoskeletal disorders. Read on to find out more.

What Are Musculoskeletal Injuries?

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a group of conditions. They involve damage to the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, and tendons.

Working in various industries and occupations such as ship repair can lead to exposure to risk. This can include lifting heavy items, bending, or working overhead. Injury can also happen from being in awkward body positions for a long time and performing repetitive tasks.

Relationship Between Musculoskeletal Injuries and Ergonomics

Ergonomics plays an important role in the prevention of work-related MSDs. Aligning a job to suit the individual, reduces muscle fatigue, boosts productivity, and decreases the risk of injury.

This is why ergonomics training is vital to help prevent these types of injuries.

Types of injuries and causes

The type of injury you can sustain from working in a shipyard is endless. It's one of the most dangerous places to work. Shipyards often involve a wide range of activities that can lead to musculoskeletal injuries.

Some common types of musculoskeletal injuries affect:

  • The back
  • The neck
  • Shoulders
  • Elbows
  • Wrists
  • Hands
  • Fingers

Other common ailments include tendonitis and carpal tunnel. The cause of this is sustained repetitive movements or activities.

Tendonitis is caused by overuse of the tendons which can occur due to performing repetitive motions such as lifting an item or pulling a lever. It is also associated with gripping tools for extended periods.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome can be caused by constantly pressing down on the buttons on a machine keypad, using vibrating tools. It can also be caused by frequent bending of the wrist while holding tools.

Ergonomic Guidelines

Working in a shipyard presents unique musculoskeletal hazards that require tailored solutions to protect workers. Identifying and controlling these risks may involve ergonomic interventions.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends several strategies for controlling MSD hazards in the shipyard industry.

  • Install barriers to keep workers from reaching out too far while carrying out tasks
  • Setting up adjustable furniture and equipment that accommodates different heights and sizes of workers
  • Providing process aids such as hoists, slings, forklifts, or conveyors that support heavier objects
  • Using tool design features like vibration-dampening handles, trigger locks, and extended reach handles
  • Encouraging frequent breaks throughout the workday to avoid fatigue and repetitive motions

Steps for Protecting Workers

Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their workers. An ergonomic process can reduce the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders in high-risk industries.

The essential elements of an ergonomic process include:

Providing Management Support

This includes setting clear goals and objectives for the ergonomic process. It involves assigning staff responsibilities, discussing the objectives with workers, and providing effective communication throughout the organization.

With proper guidance and support from management, an ergonomic process can help to create a safe and healthy workplace.

Involve Workers

Workers play an important role in the success of an ergonomic process. With a participatory ergonomic approach, workers can:

  • Provide input on their jobs and work environment that is based on their own experience
  • Solutions
  • Suggest modifications to job tasks or tools to reduce the risk of MSDs
  • Assist in implementing ergonomic solutions by providing feedback and helping evaluate outcomes

Provide Training

Training provides workers with the knowledge and understanding they need to identify potential hazards. They can suggest modifications to reduce MSD risks and become familiar with early symptoms of injury. Through training, workers can become empowered to take responsibility for their safety and health at work.

Identify Problems

This helps to identify potential hazards that can lead to MSDs. It allows for the implementation of solutions before an injury or illness occurs.

Assessments typically include observation of job tasks, and analysis of tools and equipment used. Feedback can be given from workers about their experience in the workplace.

Encourage Early Reporting of MSD Symptoms

Prompt action can help to prevent injuries from occurring or reduce the severity of injuries if they do occur. Early reporting of MSDs also helps to speed up the job assessment and improvement process. This provides faster solutions to optimize the workplace environment and reduce lost-time claims.

Implement Solutions to Control Hazards

There are a variety of solutions available to help manage, reduce, or even eliminate workplace MSDs. These include engineering and administrative controls. This involves adjusting workstations, providing ergonomic equipment, training workers on proper posture and techniques, and implementing job rotation schedules.

Evaluate Progress

Evaluation should be done periodically. This helps determine whether the goals initially set by the process are being met. It helps ensure that solutions are providing adequate benefits in reducing workplace MSDs.

As part of this process, assessments should also be done to gauge the effectiveness of actions taken. It will determine if further action is needed for better results.

Want to Know More About Musculoskeletal Injuries?

The key to preventing musculoskeletal injuries in the shipyard is understanding how to manage ergonomics. By following these steps, employers have a better chance of reducing workplace MSDs and creating a safe environment for their employees.

For more information on managing musculoskeletal injuries, contact us today. Our team of experts is here to help you create an optimal working environment. We'll help you reduce risk factors associated with developing MSDs among your workforce.



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