In speaking with a trusted safety and wellbeing colleague recently, she threw out a comment along the lines “I just don’t know why they keep getting injured in this area, nothings even heavy down there, I’ve weighed it!”. After the shocked expression cleared my face, the simple answer I gave was – “what about repetition and awkwardness!?”.
Weights and forces are at the fore-front of our mind when it comes to risky manual tasks, but we have to remember sometimes the repetition can be the hidden factor. See 6 helpful tips below to help reduce your repetition based injuries.
1. IMPLEMENT JOB ROTATION
Have your workers skilled across a few different tasks or work areas so they can rotate each hour, each day or each week to reduce exposure to certain tasks and working postures. This can also be handy when an injury does occur, more chance the worker can temporarily work on a different task and remain both productive and engaged in the workplace! The old saying, “change is as good as a holiday” could be a mental health helper too.
2. BREAK UP TASKS WITH SIMILAR PHYSICAL DEMANDS
Does your worker need to reach above their shoulder for 30% of their working day? Why not create a system of work where this is split up throughout the day so sustained load times are reduced?
3. REDUCE AWKWARD POSTURES
njury can be a sum of awkward postures and repetition. Brainstorm with your colleague about how they might reduce the awkwardness of postures. Kneeling mats to encourage kneeling and discourage stooping forwards and small step-ladders are useful! Remember the one performing the task lives the job every day, they usually have great ideas and are just waiting to be asked.
4. ERGONOMIC / MANUAL TASKS TRAINING
Specific ergonomic advice to your workers on how to position their bodies and equipment to minimise awkward postures is usually well received. Often, a few task or workstation specific exercises can make a big difference!
5. IMPLEMENT PAUSE EXERCISES
Rest pause exercises are a useful tool in reserving sustained postures and giving your workers a quick mental refresh. If you’re slumped at your desk or curled over your tablet now, try the one below!
6. GET A CONSULTANT!
Need fresh ideas on the scene? An occupational health professional draws on their specific knowledge of biomechanics and musculoskeletal disorders and combines this with industry experience. If you’re stuck for ideas they can be an incredible resource.