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Preventing Repetitive Motion Injuries In The Warehouse

Do your employees lift or carry heavy materials? Do they use hand tools? Do they repeat the same motions over and over? Do you know if any of your staff is experiencing pain? If you answered yes to any of these questions, there’s a chance your employees are dealing with repetitive motion injuries (RSIs) in the warehouse which means it may be time to automate your shipping and packaging line.

Let’s take a look at who’s at risk, common symptoms and how to prevent RSIs, also known as cumulative trauma disorders.

Why are Warehouse Workers at Risk?

Nearly 1.8 million workers each year suffer from ergonomic injuries. According to OSHA, poor ergonomic designs and improper lifting practices are a common causes of injury for warehouse employees. Some injuries, such as musculoskeletal disorders, develop because workers strain their muscles and joints while repeatedly engaging in awkward or strenuous motions. Other injuries, such as those to the back and knees, may occur during an isolated moment of overexertion.

Here are a few risk factors for work-related repetitive motion injuries:

Repeated Movements – Moving and lifting boxes on and off of racks, gripping bulky items that may not have handles, and bending/twisting to lift heavy materials can injure muscles, tendons and ligaments. Especially if repeated over and over, all day long.
Awkward Positions – Twisting and reaching overhead to get materials from racks and bins, reaching down or stooping to load and unload boxes can also lead to injuries.
Forceful movements – Using a lot of effort to get a job done, even in small movements like pinching fingers or bending at the wrist can put a worker at risk.
Little Rest – Handling materials for packaging without taking enough rest breaks means that muscles, tendons and ligament injuries have less time to heal.

Symptoms of Repetitive Motion Injuries In The Warehouse

The pain brought about by repetitive motion and stress injuries can be very excruciating. There are several treatments to alleviate some of the pain, which may work initially, but eventually fail to fix the root cause of the problem.

Pain, tingling, numbness and weakness in the back, neck, shoulders, arms, wrists and hands can affect many warehouse workers. These job related symptoms may start gradually and often people tend to ignore them at first. However, if not given the attention needed, symptoms can get worse and become harder to treat.

The good news is that most of these disorders are preventable.

How to Prevent Repetitive Motion Injuries In The Warehouse

Some ergonomic principles to keep in mind at your warehouse include:

Take a look at our previous posts, “Improve Your Posture and Your Packaging,” and “Stretch It Out to Prevent Repetitive Motion Injuries” for even more tips to help reduce repetitive motion injuries in the warehouse.

For more information, please contact a Hughes Enterprises Packaging Consultant.

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