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Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist*
AS AUTHORIZED BY THE PA SUPREME COURT

Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist*
AS AUTHORIZED BY THE PA SUPREME COURT

How repetition in the workplace could cause MSD injuries

Musculoskeletal disorders are some of the most common workplace injuries. Pennsylvania allows workers to seek compensation if their employer’s negligence resulted in them developing a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). Employers must create an ergonomic work environment for employees who have repetitive tasks like typing on a computer.

What is a musculoskeletal disorder?

An MSD is an injury that affects a person’s movement or musculoskeletal system. Affected areas may include tendons, nerves, ligaments, blood vessels, muscles and discs. Other terms for MSDs are overuse injuries, repetitive stress injuries and repetitive motion injuries. Examples of specific types of overuse injuries that you may have heard of are carpal tunnel syndrome, herniated discs, trigger finger and tendonitis.

What causes MSDs?

An overuse injury develops when the body repeatedly becomes fatigued beyond its recovery system. Poor posture, fitness and health habits contribute to developing MSDs when you engage in work or a hobby that involves repetitive movements whether that’s cutting food or typing on the computer.

Employer liability for musculoskeletal disorders

Employers shouldn’t assign tasks to employees that are beyond their physical abilities and limitations. An unsuitable workstation also increases risk for employees, so an employer could be liable when the workstation isn’t ergonomic. Workers need breaks throughout the day. If an employer deprives employees of reasonable breaks, then they could be liable for overuse injuries.

High task repetition

Jobs that have cycle times of 30 seconds or less are highly repetitive. Due to the repetitive nature, employees are at greater risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Tasks that involve high force loads also increase your risk of MSDs. Posture is important in preventing overuse injuries because poor posture puts extra stress on your joints, muscles and tendons.

Musculoskeletal disorders are a risk for many employees because they have repetitive tasks. Repeating those motions eight hours a day five days a week puts strain on the musculoskeletal system. Your body may not have enough time to recover on this schedule. Having an ergonomic workstation, maintaining proper posture and stretching and exercising regularly help reduce your risk of developing an MSD.