Musculoskeletal Injuries – Risks and Resources


A Common Ergonomic Hazard

Musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs) – also known as cumulative trauma, repetitive strain or overuse injuries – are the largest category of work-related injuries, responsible for nearly 30% of all workers’ compensation costs. That’s according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, who also reports that the average MSI costs close to $15,000.

MSIs affect the body’s musculoskeletal system, which includes muscles, ligaments, tendons, discs, nerves and blood vessels. Work hazards most likely to cause MSIs involve lifting, pushing, reaching, bending, sustained postures and repetitive movements with little chance for recovery.

Primary Risk Factors
A worker’s exposure to an MSI is dependent on his or her individual risk factors – like health and fitness – as well as ergonomic risk factors – like posture and repetition. Of all ergonomic risks, these are most common in the workplace:

  • Repetition Repetitive tasks, especially in conjunction with other risk factors, are significant contributors to MSIs. Generally, a task is considered repetitive if the cycle time is 30 seconds or less.
  • Force – Tasks that require forceful exertions or high force loads on the body can result in muscle fatigue that leads to MSIs.
  • Sustained postures – Maintaining an awkward posture for an extended period of time can overload muscles and tendons and put extreme force on joints. Joints in these circumstances work outside of their most efficient range of motion for too long without adequate rest.

A New Regulation for Housekeepers
A new Cal-OSHA regulation, which took effect July 1, gives lodging businesses until Oct. 1, 2018 to develop a written musculoskeletal injury prevention program (MIPP) specific to housekeeping. The regulation also requires employers to conduct an initial housekeeper safety evaluation, implement safety training for housekeepers and establish procedures for investigating musculoskeletal injuries.

Learn more about the regulation in a WorkComp Central interview with CompWest loss control director Cindy Ramos or by visiting Cal-OSHA online.

Check out our loss control toolbox for a housekeeping MIPP written template and general resources related to ergonomics, work stations and more.