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What are Ergonomic Injuries?

By Jacob Queen
Updated May 17, 2024
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When people talk about ergonomic injuries, they are generally referring to injuries that happen from doing common movements incorrectly. This could include things like lifting objects with an improper motion or leaning forward too far when doing a job for a long period of time. Injuries of this kind are very common in the workplace, and they can happen in both demanding physical jobs and office jobs. Many pieces of equipment are developed with ergonomic injuries in mind, and sometimes people have to learn new ways of moving so that they can avoid getting hurt.

Some ergonomic injuries happen because of repetitive motions, while others may happen due to one single event. It’s very common for these kinds of injuries to occur in a person's joints. Sometimes it takes years of accumulated work to gradually deteriorate the joints, and sometimes it occurs quickly. Another common location for ergonomic injuries is in the tendons because they can easily become inflamed over time. An example of a common tendon injury is the tendinitis that people get when they type on computer keyboards at a bad angle.

Ergonomic injuries can be a big expenditure for some businesses. Depending on the work programs or guarantees that a business offers, it may have to pay for health care costs and offer compensation to workers who injure themselves on the job. These injuries can also be a big drag on government money in places where there is national health care or in cases of severe disabilities. This has been such a big problem that some companies have instituted sweeping changes in order to avoid worker injuries, and some governments have also mandated overhauls to the system.

There are many different ways that companies change in order to avoid ergonomic injuries. For example, they may change the kind of equipment that is used for a job or adjust the positioning of certain equipment. In many cases, a common change is teaching workers how to do their jobs without injuring themselves. For example, workers may have to learn a different motion to use when carrying heavy objects or learn how to bend without putting undue strain on their backs.

Once workers learn how to avoid ergonomic injuries, another difficulty can be enforcing the new procedures. Sometimes workers can be resistant to change, or they may have a hard time breaking bad habits. Oversight from bosses is often required to keep the workers on the new program until the new behavior becomes habitual.

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Discussion Comments
By chivebasil — On Dec 28, 2012

@clippers - Actually it is part training, part organization and part equipment.

The way a workplace is set up and the way machines are operated are both significant factors. You can reduce the risk of all sorts of workplace injuries, including ergonomic ones, if you just think of setting up workplaces with the worker in mind.

By clippers — On Dec 28, 2012

@tigers88- How would they do that? Is it all a matter of training?

By tigers88 — On Dec 27, 2012

Workplace health and safety is a serious issue and any workplace that treats this issue with the respect that it deserves will take significant steps to reduce the risk of ergonomic injuries.

By vigilant — On Dec 26, 2012

I hurt myself at the gym recently. But it wasn't because I twisted something the wrong way or I lifted too much weight. My doctor just told me that I was holding the weights incorrectly when I lift and that was why my wrists were always aching.

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