Overexertion & Repetitive Motion Injuries

Overexertion and Repetitive Motion Injuries

Ergonomic injuries are injuries that occur when workers perform physical tasks that are not commensurate with their physical capabilities. In particular, health care workers in hospitals, dental offices, and medical offices, who perform cleaning tasks involving repetitive motion and overexertion, are at risk of developing or experiencing ergonomic injuries. These injuries include, among others, sprains and strains caused by slips, trips, and falls. To ensure their employees' safety, employers should recognize the conditions under which these hazards are created and maintained, and should take steps to prevent these hazards.

Causes of Overexertion Injuries

Many health care workers who perform cleaning tasks, and patient lifting or transfer tasks, are at risk of developing overexertion injuries. Overexertion injuries may occur when a worker engages in motions such as lifting, bending, or reaching. These injuries may occur when the physical capabilities of the worker do not match the physical requirements of the job.  

Overexertion injuries generally consist of sprains (stretched or torn ligaments) and strains (stretched or torn muscles or tendons). These injuries are associated with a variety of work activities in the health care setting, which include:

  • Prolonged standing: This may occur as workers frequently or continuously stand in one position while performing work tasks. Prolonged standing causes muscle fatigue and pooling of blood in the lower extremities. Awkward neck postures associated with prolonged standing (such as awkward postures that an employee can assume when attending to or monitoring a patient) can lead to neck strains and muscle stiffness.

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