Protect your employees through proper ergonomics

Lifting heavy objects, bending, reaching overhead and working in awkward positions can occur in any occupation, and they all increase the likelihood of injury and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013 MSD cases accounted for 33 percent of all worker injuries and illnesses. (1) Work-related injuries and other MSDs can be prevented through proper ergonomics—designing a job to fit the worker, rather than forcing the worker’s body to fit the job.

Potential hazards:

  • Bending at the waist while lifting puts strain on the back.
  • Reaching causes strain on the shoulders.
  • Carrying loads in one hand, under one arm or on one shoulder creates uneven pressure on the spine.
  • Inconvenient storage of objects can limit proper access to them and force awkward positions. (2)

Applying a few basic ergonomic principles can have a positive impact on the health of your employees:

  • Inspect and identify potential hazards and exposures in the workplace, e.g., heavy objects, pushing and pulling, repetitive tasks.
  • Train employees on proper lifting techniques, such as bending at the knees and keeping heavy items close to the body.
  • Train employees to recognize MSD symptoms.
  • Store heavy materials and objects between shoulder and knee height.
  • Avoid lifting objects that are too heavy for you to lift safely.
  • If heavy objects must be moved, be sure to have material handling aids, such as mechanical lifting devices and ramps, and train your employees to use them properly.
  • Order supplies in smaller quantities or break them down into smaller loads when possible.
  • Turn by moving the feet (pivoting) rather than twisting the torso.
  • Provide periodic breaks and rotate tasks so that employees are not exposed to the same activity for too long.
  • Use containers with proper handles. (2)

Visit for information about implementing an ergonomics program at your business.

Please be sure to contact your Summit Loss Prevention consultant if you have any questions.

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  3. The information presented in this publication is intended to provide guidance and is not intended as a legal interpretation of any federal, state or local laws, rules or regulations applicable to your business. The loss prevention information provided is intended only to assist policyholders of Summit managed insurers in the management of potential loss producing conditions involving their premises and/or operations based on generally accepted safe practices. In providing such information, Summit Consulting LLC does not warrant that all potential hazards or conditions have been evaluated or can be controlled. It is not intended as an offer to write insurance for such conditions or exposures. The liability of Summit Consulting LLC and its managed insurers is limited to the terms, limits and conditions of the insurance policies underwritten by any of them.
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