Recent Fines Show OSHA Still Cares About Ergonomics
If you thought OSHA had given up on ergonomics, think again. As the agency recently used the General Duty Clause (GDC) to fine one of the largest pork processors in the U.S. for violations related to ergonomics.
After a six-month inspection of a Seaboard Foods facility in Guymon, OK, OSHA cited the company with one serious GDC health violation for exposing workers to ergonomic hazards associated with repetitive motion and lifting.
Seaboard is facing a $27,306 fine and must comply with requirements dictated in ergonomics- and medical- related hazard alert letters issued to it by the agency.
Importance of Proper Stretching
Workers across all industries can be exposed to ergonomic injuries, but some are at higher risk than others. Do your employees have tasks that require frequent heavy lifting, pushing, and pulling or repetitive exertions? If so, then they are at a higher risk of getting MSDs.
Having to work in cold environments and an individual worker’s level of physical fitness can also play a role in determining the likelihood of getting an MSD.
So how do you keep your workers safe from MSDs and at the same time keep your company from getting a GDC ergonomics violation? The single biggest thing a worker can do to avoid an ergonomic injury is to stretch the appropriate muscles before starting to work. Which stretches work best depends on the type of work being done.
Proper positioning and posture while performing a given task are also important, so work areas should be set up in a way to limit straining and reaching.
What’s in an Ergo Program?
According to OSHA, a good workplace ergonomics program should:
- Have management support to define clear goals, discuss those goals with workers, assign responsibilities to designated staff members and communicate clearly with the workforce
- Involve workers in providing information about the hazards in their work areas, encourage them to offer suggestions for reducing exposure and evaluate changes made as a result of an ergonomic assessment
- Provide training to workers to make them aware of ergonomics and its benefits and understand the importance of reporting early symptoms of MSDs
- Identify ergonomic problems in the workplace
- Encourage early reporting of MSD symptoms to reduce the progression of symptoms and prevent serious injuries, and
- Implement solutions to control ergonomics hazards that are tailored to the specific workplace and task.
Interested in learning more about Ergonomics? Enroll into NASP’s Workplace Ergonomics Specialist course today!