Dr Alistair Bromhead on How to Prevent Joint and Repetitive Strain Injuries in Food Production
Whilst employers in the food sector focus on reducing risk around the movement and lifting of large, bulky items, it is important not to overlook the risks associated with repetitive tasks, of which there are many on the food production line.
"Almost half of the workers affected each year by musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) suffer joint and repetitive strain injuries including soft tissue, muscle, and ligament and tendon damage. These can result in tenderness, stiffness, tingling, numbness, weakness, swelling and pain, all of which can lead to reduced productivity, low workplace morale and sickness absence.
"Carpal tunnel syndrome, non-specific arm pain, tenosynovitis (tendon inflammation)
The ART tool (http://www.abromhead.co.uk/
"ART stands for Assessment of Repetitive Tasks", explains Dr Bromhead. "It looks at repetitive strain issues where repetition and non-neutral positions are risk factors. It allows problems to be identified that would usually go unnoticed during a standard manual handling risk assessment."
The ART tool works using a numerical score and a traffic light approach to indicate the level of risk for 12 factors, which are grouped into four stages:
• Frequency and repetition of movements
• Awkward postures of the neck, back, arm, wrist and hand
• Additional factors including rest breaks and duration of the task
The factors are all presented on a flow chart which leads the user step by step to evaluate and grade the degree of risk. The tool is supported by an assessment guide which helps to score the repetitive task being observed. There is also a worksheet to record the assessment.
The HSE recommends that training is undertaken to help use the tool reliably and appropriately. "This is very important," adds Dr Bromhead.
The ART tool and all the HSE tools form part of the Alistair Bromhead Ltd Manual Handling Risk Assessment course (http://www.abromhead.co.uk/
For more information or to book a course, call 0800 710 1099 or by emailing email@example.com.