Don't Go Soft!
Common symptoms of soft tissue injuries are:
- Tenderness and pain of joints and/or swelling
- Loss of grip strength
- Discomfort of arms, legs or hands
- Numbness in wrist, hands or fingers
Typically, there are two categories of risk factors in the workplace that influence Soft Tissue Injuries, Ergonomic, and Individual.
Ergonomic Risk Factors Include:
- Excessive Repetition: Many work tasks and cycles are repetitive in nature, and are frequently controlled by production targets and work processes.
- Awkward Posture: Awkward postures place excessive force on joints and overload the muscles and tendons.
- Excessive Force: Many work tasks require high force loads on the human body.
- Other environmental factors: Slip, trip and fall hazards increase risk of a sudden/acute soft tissue injury.
Individual Risk Factors Include:
- No recognition of early signs and symptoms: Many soft tissues injuries can develop over the course of time. At the first signs of excessive fatigue/discomfort, the worker has an opportunity to recognize the early signs and symptoms and proactively use recommended injury prevention tools and principles.
- Poor work practices: Workers who use poor work practices, body mechanics and lifting techniques are introducing unnecessary risk factors that can contribute to strains and sprains.
- Poor rest and recovery: Soft tissue injuries develop when fatigue outruns the workers recovery system.
The leading injury type for both General and Construction Industries by far is strains, sprains and tears, commonly referred to as soft tissue injuries. Soft tissue injuries accounted for 39% of all types of injuries. These injuries are the result of damage to the muscles, tendons, ligaments and/or nerves. Injuries to the back, shoulders, neck, arms, and hands are reported most often.
Many times we only increase the injury when we continue to work while being hurt, which is a frequent behavior in our industry. Continuing to work while injured and without proper treatment, not only reduces productivity but can lead to disabling injuries that could create constant lifelong pain (such as arthritis, tendonitis, etc.) or can be so disabling that it ends a career early.