The Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) Prevention Process That Works
There’s an easy way to throw the ergonomics and OHS community into a frenzy. Just ask a simple question: “What’s the one thing you should be doing to prevent MSDs? Go!”
The shouting will begin. “Ergonomic assessments!” “Pre-shift stretching and warm-up!” “Job rotation!” “Work hardening/conditioning!” “Early intervention!” “Ergonomics training!”
Then someone will sling an unnecessary insult or throw the first punch, and it’s all downhill from there.
Where is the peace in the melee? Where is the clarity in the confusion?
What should you actually be doing to prevent MSDs?
MSD Prevention Tactics Can’t Stand Alone
The problem with any of the tactics mentioned above is that they have limited scope.
Take warm-up stretching programs for example. We implement these types of programs for clients. We call them Work Readiness Systems, and they are good and necessary as part of the overall MSD prevention process. This tactic alone, however, won’t produce a dramatic reduction of MSDs.
What about ergonomics? Again, it’s an essential MSD prevention tactic, but has limited scope. If you have an ergonomics process but don’t support it with other MSD prevention practices, you’ll never achieve world class MSD prevention status.
What if engineering controls aren’t feasible? What if the workplace athlete uses terrible body mechanics and work practices? What if the workplace athlete doesn’t use the tool they should be using?
Multiple methods of controlling risk need to be available in these situations. That is why it’s so important for your MSD prevention efforts to be comprehensive.
MSD Prevention That Works is Comprehensive
The power of an MSD prevention process that works is that it is comprehensive.
It all goes back to the core lessons at the beginning of this workshop:
- MSDs are injuries to the human body’s musculoskeletal or “movement” system.
- MSDs occur at the intersection of two complex systems: the work environment and the human body
- There is no singular cause of MSDs. Instead, there are multiple causative risk factors that contribute to MSDs
- MSD prevention is about reducing and eliminating MSD risk factors
The focus should be on reducing all MSD risk factors through a proactive ergonomics and proactive healthcare process. This will include a variety of tactical elements, wrapped in a strategic and well-planned framework.
MSD Prevention That Works is Strategic
A strategy is not a tactic. Strategy is an overarching mindset. To rush into the tactics without addressing the overall aim is to lack strategy.
In other words, MSD prevention that works has to rise above a set of tactics. It operates from a strategic perspective, and this perspective comes from the leadership of your organization. It comes from you, the Prevention Pro.
A strategy is the methodology by which you accomplish a goal. If you have a goal to reduce MSDs by 75% in the next four years, you’ll need more than a potpourri of tactics. You’ll need a great strategy to make that goal.
An MSD prevention strategy should focus efforts on reducing risk that can prevent a significant percentage of injuries. Again, this requires you to go beyond a few tactical elements and move into an MSD prevention process that is comprehensive and strategic in nature.
The MSD Prevention Process That Works
For over 25 years, we’ve been helping folks like you figure out how to prevent MSDs for their organizations. After thousands upon thousands of hours of hands-on experience, we’ve learned what works and what doesn’t work.
This process is comprehensive.
This process is strategic.
And this process is effective. We’ve seen it work over and over again.
We call it The Ergonomics Plus System, and you can use it as a model to develop a custom MSD prevention process for your facility.
Here are the basic elements:
Remember — Prevention is Proactive!
Above all else, remember that prevention is proactive. The Ergonomics Plus System is all about reducing all causative risk factors. Use it to identify the gaps in your current process and build a comprehensive MSD prevention process for your organization.
Lesson 6 Key Takeaways
- MSD prevention tactics can’t stand alone because there is not one single tactic that reduces all MSD risk factors
- The focus should be on reducing all MSD risk factors through a comprehensive proactive ergonomics and proactive healthcare process.
- An MSD prevention strategy should focus efforts on reducing risk that can prevent a significant percentage of injuries.
- The Ergonomics Plus System is a model you can use to develop a custom MSD prevention process for your facility