Injuries that affect the muscles, nerves and tendons — also known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) — are a leading cause of lost work time, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
MSDs are preventable by following ergonomic practices, which aim to reduce risk factors such as awkward postures when bending, prolonged sitting and repeated exertions of force.
Here are some tips to help avoid MSDs:
- Keep items used most often within easy reach, at a height between the knees and shoulders.
- Bend your knees when lifting, and keep your back straight.
- When lifting an object, place it as close to your body as possible.
- Ask for help if an item to be lifted is too heavy for one person.
- For jobs that require prolonged sitting, use a comfortable chair with good support for your upper and lower back. Position your computer monitor directly in front of you, with the top of the monitor at eye level or slightly below to reduce neck and back strain.
- Position your keyboard and mouse at about elbow height and within easy reach without putting pressure on your wrists from contact with hard edges. Use mechanical aids (such as tilters or lifters) or equipment to raise work off the workroom floor.
- Position Mail Transport Equipment (MTE) and other containers properly when loading or unloading to help eliminate or reduce twisting at the waist. When moving MTE or other containers, always push, don’t pull.
- Moving helps minimize constant muscle tension and fatigue. Pace yourself and take very short breaks to stretch and relax muscles.
Supervisors and employees can find more information and safety talks on avoiding MSDs on the Ergonomics site.