Hello there, this is Goke Akingbade ( your Safety guide) bringing you an interesting topic to dwell on. Sprains and strains are common and costly in especially construction industry and manufacturing firms today. They are costly for businesses, they are costly (and painful ) for workers and they are costly (and frustrating ) for safety professionals.

Sprains and strains are preventable in all workplaces . What needs to be done is management and staff taking proactive steps in preventing them from occurring.

Risk factors need to be identified and control measures ought to be systematically applied.

The hard part is deciding to reduce all risk factors, gaining 100% leadership commitment and instituting a process that persists over the course of time.

What are Sprains?

A sprain is an injury to a ligament (tissue that connects two or more bones at a joint). In a sprain, one or more ligaments is stretched or torn.

What are Strains?

A strain is an injury to a muscle or a tendon (tissue that connects muscle to bone). In a strain, a muscle or tendon is stretched or torn.

The Causes of Sprains and Strains

Sprains and strains can happen suddenly or develop over the course of days, weeks or months. When a worker is exposed to causative risk factors, they are more likely to develop a sprain / strain.

There are two general categories of risk factors; ergonomic (workplace) risk factors and individual risk factors.

Ergonomic (Workplace) Risk Factors:

Excessive Force: A lot of job tasks require high force loads impacted on the human body. Muscle effort increases in response to high force requirements, increasing associated fatigue which can lead to Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD.

Excessive Repetition: Most job tasks of workers involve tasks are repetitive in nature, and are frequently controlled by hourly or daily production targets and work processes. High task repetition, when combined with other risks factors such high force and/or awkward postures, can contribute to the formation of MSD.

Awkward Posture: Awkward postures  place excessive force on joints and overload the muscles and tendons around the effected joint. Joints of the body are most efficient when they operate closest to the mid-range motion of the joint. Risk of MSD is increased when joints are worked outside of this mid-range repetitively or for sustained periods of time without adequate recovery time.

Other environmental factors: Slip, trip and fall hazards increase risk of a sudden / acute soft tissue injury.

Individual Risk Factors:

Poor ergonomic work practices: Workers who engage poor work practices, body mechanics and poor lifting techniques introduce risk factors that can contribute to MSDs. These poor practices create unnecessary stress on their bodies that increases fatigue and decreases their body’s ability to properly recover.

Poor health habits: Workers who smoke, engage in excessive drinking, are obese, or exhibit numerous other poor health habits are putting themselves at risk for musculoskeletal disorders. They are also exposed to risk for other chronic diseases that will shorten their life and health span.

Poor rest and recovery: MSDs develop when fatigue outruns the workers recovery system, leading to a musculoskeletal imbalance. Workers who do not get enough rest and recovery put themselves at higher risk.

No recognition of early signs and symptoms: Many Musculoskeletal injuries develop over time. At the first signs of excessive fatigue/discomfort, the worker has an opportunity to recognize the early signs and symptoms and proactively use recommended injury prevention tools and principles. Not identifying early warning signs can lead to a reactive approach – and it is just a matter of time until these signs and symptoms develop into a musculoskeletal injury.

This is where we will stop for today, so till I come your way again,this is Goke( your Safety guide) signing off.

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