Chapter 2ERGONOMICS and UPPER EXTREMITY MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS

Thomas R. Hales

Ergonomics has been defined as the science of fitting the job to the worker1 or the art of matching job demands with worker capabilities. Upper extremity (UE) musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are soft tissue disorders of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, peripheral nerves, joints, cartilage, or supporting blood vessels in the neck, shoulder, arm, elbow, forearm, hand, or wrist. Examples of specific disorders include tension neck syndrome, rotator cuff tendinitis, epicondylitis, peritendinitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).2 When job demands overwhelm an employee’s mental and/or physical capacity, employee health, comfort, and productivity can be adversely affected.3 While comfort and productivity levels are important outcomes to consider, this chapter will focus upon the effect of workplace physical stressors (repetition, force, posture, and vibration) on the musculoskeletal system of the upper extremities. This chapter reviews the epidemiologic association between UE MSDs and work, and provides practical tools for healthcare providers to (i) assess physical stressors in the workplace and (ii) recognize, treat, and prevent UE MSDs.

OCCUPATIONAL SETTING

Magnitude of the problem

BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS DATA

An injury or illness is work related if an event or exposure in the work environment either caused or contributed to the resulting condition or significantly aggravated a preexisting ...

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