There are two general categories of risk factors; ergonomic (workplace) risk factors and individual risk factors.
Workplace Risk Factors:
- Excessive Force: FMS measures the body’s ability to efficiently control force.
- Economy and Efficiency of motion: The less effort it takes to move the body because of increased efficiency, the more capacity a worker will have to do their job.
- Excessive Repetition: By measuring the body’s ability to measure capacity, you can identify employees that could be at an increased risk of RSI.
- Awkward Posture: Awkward postures place excessive force on joints and overload the muscles and tendons around the effected joint.
- Environmental factors: Slip, trip and fall hazards increase risk of a sudden / acute soft tissue injury.
Individual Risk Factors:
- Poor work practices: Workers who use poor body mechanics and lifting techniques are at an increase injury potential.
- Poor overall health habits: In today’s society workers who smoke, drink excessively, are obese, are at high risk for not only musculoskeletal disorders but cardiovascular diseases as well. This behavior can be changed through safety and lifestyle training.
- Poor nutrition, fitness and hydration: Making sure the human body is properly fueled and hydrated is key to optimal human performance.
- Recognition of early signs and symptoms: 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. Not recognizing early warning signs lends to a reactive approach – and it’s only a matter of time until these signs and symptoms develop into a musculoskeletal injury.
The more risk factors a worker is exposed to, the greater the likelihood of an injury occurring. As you can see from the MSD Risk Spectrum above, when both ergonomic risk factors and individual risk factors are present, the greater the likelihood of a musculoskeletal injury disorder.