Both work-related and non-work related conditions can either individually, or by interacting with each other, give rise to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as tendinitis, tenosynovitis, epicondylitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, deQuervain's disease, ganglion cyst, thoracic outlet syndrome, and less precise conditions such as sprains, strains, tears, or even just pain.
The types of activities that are associated with MSDs, include:
- Awkward postures, which might include: prolonged work with hands above the head or with the elbows above the shoulders; prolonged work with the neck bent; squatting, kneeling, or lifting; handling objects with back bent or twisted; repeated or sustained bending or twisting of wrists, knees, hips or shoulders; forceful and repeated gripping or pinching.
- Forceful lifting or pushing/pulling, which might include: handling heavy objects; moving bulky or slippery objects; assuming awkward postures while moving objects.
- Prolonged repetitive motion, which might include: keying; using tools or knives; packaging, handling, or manipulating objects.
- Contact stress, which might include: repeated contact with hard or sharp objects, like desk or table edges.
- Vibration, which might include: overuse of power hand tools.
There are several approaches that may be used to determine whether conditions in the workplace might be contributing to employees developing MSDs. These approaches can be used individually or in combination.
- Review and analyze injury and illness records to determine whether there is a pattern of ergonomic-related injuries in certain jobs or work tasks. Look at OSHA injury logs, workers' compensation claims, first-aid logs, absentee and turnover records, and employee complaints. Once all of the records have been examined, categorize MSD cases by job, department, division, work task, shift, and so on, to determine whether patterns or trends exist.
- Analyze the jobs or work tasks themselves to identify potential ergonomic problems before employee injuries occur. Determine if jobs present ergonomic risks that may contribute to musculoskeletal disorders.
- Seek employee input about the existence of ergonomic problems related to particular jobs or work tasks.
- Be aware of common contributing conditions within your industry or job classifications. If other companies in the same industry have ergonomic-related problems, then it is possible these potential problems are also your concern.
Millions of workers are potentially exposed to chemical hazards each year. The nearly 600,000 existing chemical products pose serious problems for exposed workers and their employers.
Chemical exposure may cause or contribute to many serious health effects such as heart ailments, kidney and lung damage, sterility, cancer, burns, and rashes. Some chemicals may also be safety hazards and have the potential to cause fires, explosions, and other serious accidents.
Providing protection from chemical hazards is a challenging task because of the range of hazards and operations in which they are used. Potential hazards arising from chemical exposure may occur during the following:
- Production operations involving hazardous chemicals
- Hazardous substance site survey
- Spill mitigation
- Emergency monitoring
Protecting workers from chemical hazards primarily occurs through engineering and administrative controls; before personal protective equipment (PPE) is considered.
In order to determine the chemical hazards in your facility, it is important to understand the different forms that chemicals may take. "Chemicals," as defined by OSHA, come in many forms, beyond the traditional "liquid."
- Liquids — the most common form in the workplace.
- Dusts — are finely divided particles. Example - wood dust.
- Fumes — are even smaller particles usually formed when solid metal is heated and vaporized, and then condenses as tiny particles.
- Fibers — are similar to dusts but are of an elongated shape. Examples - asbestos and fiberglass.
- Mists — are liquid droplets that have been sprayed into the atmosphere.
- Vapors — are gases formed when liquid evaporates.
- Gases — are substances that are normally airborne at room temperature. A vapor is the gaseous phase of a substance which is a normally a liquid or solid at room temperature.
- Solids — such as metal, treated wood, plastic.
Another important task when assessing the workplace for chemical hazards is to determine the route(s) of entry the chemicals may take. The four common routes of entry are:
- Ingestion — Do workers eat or drink it?
- Inhalation — Do workers breath it in?
- Absorption — Does it pass through the skin, eyes, or other membranes?
- Injection — Does it enter through a puncture or cut?
Oregon OSHA recommends a simple two step process for assessing and analyzing the workplace for chemical hazards:
- Assess the workplace to see which hazardous chemicals are currently being used. Do this by conducting a walkaround inspection and checking records. Use the results of your assessment to create a list of hazardous chemicals. With chemical list in hand, obtain a MSDS for each chemical in preparation for the next step.
- With each MSDS analyze the hazards presented by each chemical in the workplace. The MSDS is your primary tool to determine the physical and health hazards, routes of entry, toxicity, and other information about each chemical in your workplace.
And just because you understand the hazards of a given chemical, it doesn't mean there can't be additional hazards if the chemical is mixed or exposed to other chemicals. Chemicals have the ability to react when exposed to other chemicals or certain physical conditions. The reactive properties of chemicals vary widely and they play a vital role in the production of many chemical, material, pharmaceutical, and food products we use daily. When chemical reactions are not properly managed, they can have harmful, or even catastrophic consequences, such as toxic fumes, fires, and explosions. These reactions may result in death and injury to people, damage to physical property, and severe effects on the environment. Process safety management is used to prevent and mitigate chemical reactivity hazards.