The Impact of Work Related Pain Disorders

As healthcare professionals we’re often telling our patients to use proper body mechanics and to continuously evaluate their surroundings to avoid injury or some other catastrophic event both personally and professionally. What practices are we implementing as clinicians? What safeguards to we have in place to insure our safety at work. When I was in the clinical setting I was often reminded by my colleagues to practice safe work habits not only for the  health of my patients, but also my own. When I left the clinical setting and changed my work environment to an office setting, I knew I was going to have to implement best practice and implement my own healthy ergonomics to avoid injury. It wasn’t just about proper footwear anymore. My “gear” had to change, so my first big investment was the Embody Chair by Herman Miller®. A philosophy that I live by is that you’re either going to make a small investment now, or pay dearly for it later.

Implement your own best practices to stay safe on the job. This guest post below discusses the impact of work related disorders.

According to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, work-related pain disorders (including repetitive stress injuries) or work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) affect millions of employees and employers in the U.S. every single year. To be exact 4.1 million people in the United States.

To make matters worse, in 2010, there were 4,690 lives lost due to workplace injuries (that’s a worker death every 2 hours)—with construction identified as the most dangerous industry, at greater risk for fatalities or injuries suffered due to a fall, car or equipment accident, electrocution, machine malfunction, or falling object.

Workplace deaths, illnesses, and injuries cost a whopping $155.5 billion every year! What’s really tragic isn’t the money coming out of employer’s pockets; it’s that most of these accidents and injuries are totally preventable. Repetitive stress-type injuries in particular can affect any part of your body from the head to the toes and can be remedied or prevented with the proper ergonomic equipment—such as adjustable desks, chairs with proper back and spine support, ergonomic keyboards with wrist support to prevent fatigue, and more. They commonly present themselves in:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tendonitis
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Tension neck syndrome

Obviously from the list above neck, lower back, spine, shoulders, wrists, hands, and forearms are the most commonly affected body parts. However, work-related pain can present itself in these regions as well:

  • The pelvic region
  • Legs
  • Feet

All of these areas of the body can be affected by repetitive stress and result in injury if you are a person who maintains poor posture and sits for long periods of the day. Other workplace injuries and deaths are typically the result because of a slip, trip, fall, or equipment accident in the workplace.

According to the National Institute of Health, workplace pain disorders and injuries are a leading cause of human suffering and reduced workplace productivity. Understandably this hurts both the employee—in terms of pay, reliability, and quality of life—and the employer—in terms of productivity and their bottom line.

Unfortunately, the majority of workplace pain disorders and injuries go unreported because employees are fearful of losing their jobs.  And, if left untreated, a minor bit of pain, such as a stiff neck, can turn into sometime a lot more serious—such as spinal misalignment, pinched nerves, and more. At the same time, employers of both large and small companies tend to underestimate the costs and impact of workplace injury on their businesses.

As a company owner, it should concern you greatly when you hear that more than 2 million employees are so seriously injured that they’re unable to work and need ongoing medical care. However, only when an employer truly understands the costs associated with workplace injury management on their bottom line can they instill benefits that protect employees from becoming injured or sick at work.

Here are the direct and indirect costs associated with workplace injuries…

Direct costs include:

  • Premiums associated with worker insurance claims
  • Lost wages
  • Risk of health and safety fines if an injury is sustained in the workplace
  • Medical expenses

Indirect costs include:

  • Administration time for filing injury claim documents
  • Human resources time for finding temporary replacement workers
  • Health and Safety department time to identify and fix the issue
  • Reduced productivity
  • Impact on company morale
  • Impact on customer service
  • Company reputation

About The Author

Gina M Casillo is a staff writer for Serenity Living Stores, your choice place to buy an Eames chair. She enjoys writing about home décor, productivity and —especially when it comes to the spaces she’s most intimate with.

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