Upper limb disorders
Work Related Upper limb disorders (WRULD's) are also known as Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI). They affect the hand, wrist, arm and shoulder. The main risk factors are:
- Awkward upper limb postures
- Application of undesirable forces
- Repetition of a task
- Task duration.
A combination of these risk factors can increase the likelihood of discomfort and injury. Additional factors relating specifically to tool and equipment design include:
- Pressure points on hands or arms, for example from tools or work surfaces
- Exerting high forces with pinch grip rather than power grip
- Vibrating tools
The tablet scoop used for this activity dictates an awkward wrist posture. It also requires the arm to be raised above shoulder height because of the high position of the tablet hopper.
Using these pincers creates a pressure point in the palm of the hand. They also require a forceful grip to operate them.
Risk factors for the potential development of ULD's occurring can be reduced or eliminated by considering the following:
- Alter position of the work object eg bring it closer.
- Change position of the worker
- Change the hand tool
- Modify the technique
- Job rotation
- Task enlargement
- Mechanisation or automation
- Change the hand tool being used for one requiring less force
- Introduce frequent short rest breaks
- Allow employees to work at their own pace
- Job rotation
- Minimise piece work to prevent excessive working
Also consider the suitability of PPE, ensuring that it does not interfere with dexterity or movement.
Psychosocial factors may also influence the likelihood of problems developing and need to be taken into account.
Psychosocial risk factors are things that may affect workers psychological response to their work and workplace conditions (including working relationships with supervisors and colleagues).
Circumstances for particular consideration include:
- Tasks requiring high levels of concentration for long periods of time.
- Work that is machine paced
- Monotonous work requiring few skills
- Work systems that limit the amount of social interaction
- High workloads and tight deadlines
- Lack of control of the work and working methods
Many tasks within pharmaceuticals manufacture or research and development can possess these risk factors.
As with physical risk factors, psychosocial issues are best addressed with full consultation and involvement of the workforce. The following control measures should be considered to reduce the risks from psychosocial factors:
- Reducing the monotony of tasks where appropriate
- ensuring there are reasonable work loads (neither too much or too little) deadlines and demands
- ensuring good communication and reporting of problems
- encouraging teamwork
- monitoring and control of shift work or overtime working
- reducing or monitoring payment systems which work on piece rate
- providing appropriate training