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How musculoskeletal disorders can be prevented in the workplace

Minnesota employers should be aware that musculoskeletal disorders resulted in 33 percent of all work-related injuries in 2011. Because a musculoskeletal disorder affects an employee's performance or ability to work, an injury could result in an employee taking time off from work to recover. Not only can this affect a company's operations, it can also cost the company money if the workplace is considered unsafe.

In certain workplaces that require physical labor or repeated tasks, employees are at risk for suffering these types of disorders that affect the muscles, tendons and nerves and can cause pain or extreme discomfort. For example, if an employee's job entails repeatedly lifting heavy items or working in an awkward body position for a long period of time, they are at risk for suffering an injury that could not only affect their performance but affect their ability to do the job.

There are steps that an employer can take to reduce any potential injuries in the workplace. In addition to providing a safe workplace with equipment that has been properly maintained, the employer can also provide training, provide management support and involve the workers. If there is communication between management and the workers, both can work together to identify any problems or hazards in the workplace before they cause an injury occurs. Employees can reduce the risk of serious injuries by reporting any symptoms of a musculoskeletal disorder, which potentially reduces the risk of a more extensive injury.

An employee who suffers an injury and has documentation proving that the injury occurred at the workplace may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. If the injured worker is denied benefits, an attorney may assist the client by appealing the decision.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor , "Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Workplace", October 31, 2014

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