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MSDs, Preventive Health and You: Part III: Change Is Coming. Are You Onboard?
By Jessie Hochhalter - June 28, 2010

MSDs are of the most common human affliction worldwide and account for 49 percent of all absences and 60 percent of permanent work incapacity.8  Back/neck pain is one of the top five most costly conditions for employees, not only in medical and pharmaceutical costs, but also in productivity loss and absenteeism.9

I have looked at the role of preventive health in the United States, and how the “deal with it as it comes” approach to health simply isn’t working—be it regarding healthcare reform or human resources. Long-term costs will come down and overall productivity will go up with small investments in the wellness of working people.

Even though the government has allocated billions of dollars to preventive health—and even if you are fortunate enough to receive some of that funding—meaningful change will only occur if there is a real and lasting shift in the philosophy of health. Health exists as a spectrum; there is more than just “healthy” and “sick.” Actions must be taken proactively—before injury and disease are too bad to ignore; and there is always room for improvement.

With a keener eye on the causes of MSDs and an overall approach of preventive health, chronic and costly injuries can be avoided and the workforce can thrive. The problem has been identified; the question is: What are you going to do about it? A comprehensive ergonomics program along with early ergonomic intervention is a good place to start.

It is important to remember that ergonomics, as an effective preventive measure, is more than just an expensive chair. Equipment plays an important role in workstation safety, but even someone with the finest tools cannot realize success without some skills and direction. A complete ergonomics program should consist of workstation and behavior data and analysis, equipment modification, education and training. Whether you roll out a complete ergonomic program, or take the first step with early ergonomic intervention, you will see results.

In the meantime, here are some principles to remember regarding MSDs in the workplace:

The equipment should work for you, not you for it; if you have to strain to perform regular tasks, something needs to change.

Know how to adjust your equipment. You could be reducing, or even eliminating, the benefits of great ergonomic equipment if you are not using it correctly.

Without the correct posture, sitting can be anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent harder on the body than standing.10  It is important to always keep your posture in the back of your mind and take micro-breaks to reduce fatigue.

8 Http://



Jessie Hochhalter is a team member and ergonomics advocate at Omega Health Systems (OHS). Email address:, phone number 866 966-3420 ext. 102. 



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