Upper Limb Disorders / Repetitive strain

Do you have employees reporting pain and discomfort in their arms, neck, shoulders? Are there signs of employees adjusting their work arrangements to reduce strain? Maybe some employees are wearing splints and support bandages on their arms or wrists?

If the answer is yes to any of these, your work activities would benefit from a repetitive work risk assessment.

Dealing with ULD risk factors

Industrial workstations vary widely in layout and design, e.g. from rapid conveyor belt working to detailed assembly work. These all present their own musculoskeletal hazards. We look at your work activities and equipment and apply ergonomic principles to:

  • Optimise work tasks to reduce musculoskeletal ill health and injury
  • Provide efficient working arrangements to improve productivity
  • Ensure you meet your legal duties to manage the risks

ULDs in the workplace

Repetitive Upper Limb work such as assembly line work or hand-tool / power-tool use, if not suitably managed, can cause musculoskeletal disorders in the shoulders, neck, arms, hands or fingers, or make existing problems worse. These are called Upper Limb Disorders (ULDs) – sometimes also called Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs), or Occupational Overuse Injuries.

Employers’ legal duties to manage and control ULD risks are based on:

  • Health & Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999
  • Provision and Use of Work Equipment (PUWER) 1998

How we approach ULD issues in the workplace

We will look at your whole work system and the tools and machinery that are used. Our ULD / Workstation assessments typically follow the steps described below, although we are of course flexible to the different needs of clients.

  1. Identify hazardous upper limb task(s).
  2. Gather information and data, video footage etc. to allow us to analyse the task(s).
  3. Examine the layout and dimensions of your workstations and assess them against Anthropometric data, guidance and relevant BS/ISO standards such as BS EN ISO 14738:2008 Safety of machinery – Anthropometric requirements for the design of workstations at machinery.
  4. Assess the ergonomics of any hand-held tools (power tools or manual tools) or devices and compare our findings with guidance and known risk factors.
  5. Apply validated risk assessment tools including REBA, RULA, QEC, ART Tool and guidance such as HSG60 (HSE Guidance on Upper Limb Disorders in the Workplace). We will typically use more than one tool in order to strengthen the validity of our findings.
  6. Prepare a report on injury risks and the level of risk. Our report will give you advice and prioritised recommendations – we will tell you what should be done to control and reduce the risk (legal benchmarks and advice on appropriate interventions).
  7. Provide ongoing support – we can help you to implement changes and solutions. We can also provide support in selecting, testing and monitoring interventions and handling aids etc., and provide your employees with advice and training on optimising their working arrangements and maintaining them effectively.

Contact us for more information or to ask for a quote

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