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Understanding California’s ergonomics standard

Repetition builds mastery. But as in all things in life, anything excessive can be catastrophic. To some workers, this means being at risk of repetitive motion injuries. Per the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, repetitive work is the performance of strenuous tasks over and over, which may include pushing, pulling, gripping, keying, lifting or twisting.

When the strain catches up to your body parts, like hands, shoulders, knees, neck and back, it causes repetitive motion injuries, which are cumulative trauma disorders affecting your musculoskeletal system.

To prevent yourself from losing work for doing work, you must learn how to deliberately look out for yourself while on the job.

Repetitive motion injuries at work

Due to the inherent nature of the job, there are specific occupations at high risk of repetitive motion injuries:

  • Manual work: Package pick-up and delivery, construction, carpentry, child care or patient handling, and stocking, scanning or bagging grocery goods
  • Process work: Assembly line and manufacturing
  • Office work: Computer-intensive, clerical duties

Sufficient rest and over-the-counter medication may suffice for minor cases. But for severe injuries, surgery and long-term rehabilitative care may be necessary.

The ergonomics standard

To address workplace repetitive motion injuries, California’s legally enforceable ergonomics standard has the following conditions:

  • Predominant causation: The injury must be a result of a repetitive process, operation or job, at least 50% or more.
  • Medical requirement: A licensed physician must accurately identify and diagnose the injury.
  • Time requirement: At least two or more workers must report the incident to their employer within a 12-month period.

Employers have an obligation to prevent workers from sustaining repetitive motion injuries by conducting on-site evaluations, providing employee training, and controlling or correcting damaging exposures.

Employers can also initiate ideal ergonomics by adjusting workstations in such a way that conveniently fits their workers’ tasks. They may also consider tools and equipment to lighten the load. In the same vein, workers must also watch out for symptoms of swelling, stiffness or sensitivity for early prevention.

A proactive approach

Your work puts food on the table, but you should not break your back while at it. It must lead you to a comfortable life, not make you miserable. You can fight for your work and future by choosing to take a proactive stance. A legal representative can ease all your burdens and guide you in filing a workers’ compensation claim to seek liability.