NIOSH examines MSD risks in surfacing, finishing work

Washington – Surfacing and finishing work may lead to musculoskeletal disorders because the tasks require awkward postures and repetitive motion, according to a new report (.pdf file) from NIOSH.

Agency researchers observed and interviewed workers at three eyeglass manufacturing facilities in Minnesota in 2010 at the request of company management, which was responding to ergonomic concerns in the surfacing and finishing departments.

The evaluation determined that awkward postures and repetitive motions put employees at higher risk for shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, wrist, hand and finger musculoskeletal disorders. Wrist, shoulder, hand and back disorders were the most common disorders experienced by employees at the facilities, which had higher injury and illness rates than similar establishments, the report states.

NIOSH’s recommendations for management include:

  • Design work areas to have a working height of 27-62 inches.
  • Add adjustable table heights so employees can customize workstations.
  • Rotate employees to different job tasks after every break.

Workers should:

  • Keep heavy loads close to the body when lifting and carrying.
  • Take part in safety and ergonomic committees.
  • Report injuries and unsafe working conditions to their supervisor.

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