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OSH 3701 Unit V Assessment

Question 1

Describe hand-arm vibrations (HAVS); what are the long-term issues an employee might have if vibration sources are not corrected?

Your response should be at least 75 words in length.

Our text notes, that hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is an injury caused by over exposure to vibration, primarily from the use of vibrating tools. Symptoms of HAVS include blanching, tingling, numbness, or pain that can be brought on or intensified by exposure to cold (Stack, et. al, 2016, p. 219). Over time, employees that use vibrating tools on a regular basis can get vascular spasms or constrictions in the finger, which can appear to be white or pale. This is known as vibration-induced white finger. Other injuries employees might get over a long period of exposure to vibration is vascular, bone, joint, neurological, or muscular disorders (Stack, et. al, 2016, p. 235).

References

Stack, T., Ostrom, L. T., & Wilhelmsen, C. A. (2016). Occupational Ergonomics: A Practical Approach. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Question 2

Describe the ergonomic risk factors associated with a sharp edge on a work bench. Include supporting evidence as part of your discussion.

Your response should be at least 75 words in length.

Probably the two biggest risk factors associated with the sharp edge on a work bench is contact stress and awkward posture. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) describes contact stress as, pressing the body or part of the body (such as resting elbows on the sharp edge of a work bench) against hard or sharp edges, or using the hand as a hammer (OSHA, n.d.). In our text, figure 11.11 shows an example of a worker in an awkward posture and compression from resting her elbows on the sharp edge of the desk. Figure 11.12 shows a worker in a good posture using padded forearm rest to reduce compression (Stack, et. al, 2016, p. 257). Two other risk factors associated with the sharp edge of a work bench are duration and static posture. If a worker spends long periods of time in an awkward or static posture resting his/her elbows on the sharp edge of a work bench they are likely to develop a Musculoskeletal Disorder.

References

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (n.d.). Ergonomics: Identify Problems. Retrieved from https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/identifyprobs.html

Stack, T., Ostrom, L. T., & Wilhelmsen, C. A. (2016). Occupational Ergonomics: A Practical Approach. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Question 3

Consider ergonomic hazards associated with the operation of pneumatic impact wrenches in a vehicle maintenance facility. What could you, as part of the ergonomics team, provide in the way of protection against the work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) that might be associated with the use of such a tool? Include supporting evidence as part of your discussion.

Your response should be at least 200 words in length.

One way of protecting workers from work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) while operating pneumatic impact wrenches would be to ensure that the worker’s workstation is fitted to him/her rather than the worker fitting the workstation. This could be achieved through modifying existing equipment, purchasing new equipment, making changes to the work process, training, and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). I would first determine if there was a way to modify the pneumatic impact wrench so that it vibrated less when being operated. An example of a modification that could be done would be to wrap the handle of the impact wrench with additional rubber or polyurethane. If modifying the impact wrench was not practical, I would recommend that a newer version, possibly, a vibration-dampened pneumatic impact wrench be purchased to replace the old impact wrench. Purchasing a vibration-dampened pneumatic impact wrench could possibly cut down on the number of WMSDs workers receive. I would also recommend that any new impact wrenches that are purchased be as light as functionally possible. Our text notes, that “tools that weigh more than 10 lbs. can cause extreme forearm discomfort in a few minutes” (Stack, et. al, 2016, p. 218). Another way of protecting against WMSDs would be for workers to use PPE such as vibration absorbing gloves. Although, as mentioned in our text, “actual measurements have shown that such gloves have limited effectiveness in absorbing low frequency vibration” the use of vibration absorbing gloves would give the worker an added layer of protection against getting a WMSD (Stack, et. al, 2016, p. 243). Along with using a vibration-dampened impact wrench and vibration absorbing gloves another way to protect against WMSDs would be to follow safe work practices. Examples of safe work practices for operating pneumatic impact wrenches are: applying the minimum hand grip consistent with safe operation of the impact wrench, avoid continuous exposure by taking rest periods, and consulting a physician at the first sign of a vibration disease. Lastly, training and education are great tools to use for protection against WMSDs. Training programs are an effective means of heightening workers’ awareness to WMSDs associated with working with pneumatic impact wrenches (Stack, et. al, 2016).

References

Stack, T., Ostrom, L. T., & Wilhelmsen, C. A. (2016). Occupational Ergonomics: A Practical Approach. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Question 4

Describe one or more potential solutions for an employee who is experiencing the onset of back pain after working at his or her workstation that primarily requires the employee to work in a seated position. Include supporting evidence as part of your discussion.

Your response should be at least 200 words in length.

The first solution that comes to mind would be to ask the organizations ergonomics team to conduct and ergonomics assessment to determine if the employee is using a well-designed ergonomic chair that allows the employee to sit with their feet flat on the floor along with their hips and knees being parallel to the floor. As our text notes, “chairs are one of the most important tools in an office” so starting here would be a good place to start. (Stack, et. al, 2016, p. 86). The ergonomics team could also determine if the workstation the employee works at should be a seated workstation or if the employee should be standing while working. Our text notes, that “a seated workstation is not appropriate when working with heavy items, repetitive extended reaching, or heavy force” (Stack, et. al, 2016, p. 252). Another solution would be to determine if the employee is working within their “working envelope”. Our text defines the working envelope for a specific worker as the sweep radius of the arms, with the hands in a grasping position (Stack, et. al, 2016, p. 255). A solution for preventing back pain would be for the employee to ensure they were not working outside their working envelope. Another solution would be for the employee to get into the routine of taking periodic breaks throughout the day to get up and move around to get the blood flowing. Lastly, a good solution to help alleviate back pain would be for the employee to implement a stretching routine after returning from their break and prior to sitting back at their chair.

References

Stack, T., Ostrom, L. T., & Wilhelmsen, C. A. (2016). Occupational Ergonomics: A Practical Approach. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

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