Successful Habits Occupational Safety

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a U.S. Department of Labor organization devoted to the health and safety of American workers. They offer various tactics to reduce MSD’s (musculoskeletal disorders) in the workplace. Their Outreach and Assistance program, designed to interface with workers directly, is one of four in their “four-pronged” approach to aiding the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace. The other aspects of the “four-pronged” approach are: Guidelines, Enforcement and the National Advisory Committee.

Ergonomics is the science of designing and maintaining products, machines and work environments that cause the least stress upon the human body and result in the fewest instances of injury and discomfort. The four prongs of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s approach to ergonomic safety have different areas of focus. The Enforcement branch has to do with the inspections carried out by this and other organizations to assure that work environments are as safe as they can be. When they find organizations that violate standards of ergonomic safety they alert authorities and attempt to alter the situation. The National Advisory Committee branch controls the applications of research related to the study of ergonomics. The Guidelines branch develops industry specific guidelines based on statistics related to ergonomic industries in the workplace. Finally, the Outreach and Assistance branch helps businesses, small and large alike, identify and apply good practices in ergonomics to their workplaces to increase the safety and comfort of their employees.

OSHA releases studies on specific industries to help those industries create a more ergonomically satisfying environment for their employees. One such industry is the Retail Grocery industry. They first identified some of the risks particularly associated with employment in the Retail Grocery industry, specifically, force, repetition, awkward posture and static postures. OSHA maintains that these factors dramatically increase the chances of the Retail Grocery employee of serious injuries and illnesses such as, muscle strains and back injuries, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, Epicondylitis and trigger finger. OSHA identifies certain activities, such as stacking shelves, that place employee’s bodies in awkward positions that they must maintain for a period of time. Some of their solutions are as simple as the following, related to icing produce. They recommend a better ice machine that takes the stress of scooping and loading ice away from the worker by letting gravity and the ice machine pour ice into buckets on a cart below the machine. In this way, the ice is ready to be transported when the worker approaches the machine, cutting any bending, scooping and lifting the employee might otherwise have had to perform and making the overall experience more physically pleasant.

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