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Reducing Risk of Musculoskeletal Disorders: Your Workstation

Whenever possible, make choices that reduce your risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). You probably can't use every tip offered here, but do your best to find a few that work for your situation. If you can control an identified risk factor, you've been successful. Anytime you reduce your risk, you lessen your chances of injury.

Man wearing safety glasses working at bench with power tools. One foot is raised on support.

Set up correctly

Use tools with counterbalances or overhead assists to reduce the amount of weight your body must support.

Wear personal protective equipment when it's needed. If you need gloves, make sure they fit properly, so gripping isn't made more difficult.

Adjust your work height to suit the type of task being done.

  • For general tasks—grinding, for example—materials should be at elbow height.

  • For precision work, such as assembling small parts, materials should be slightly higher than your elbow.

  • For forceful tasks—cranking a wrench or cutting meat—materials should be slightly lower than your elbow.

Use anti-fatigue mats to cushion your feet from hard surfaces. These mats also stimulate small movements in your foot muscles, improving blood flow through your feet and legs.

Pick the right tools

Select tools that make the job easier. Remember these tips:

  • Textured or cushioned handles provide an easier grip.

  • Some curved handles help keep your wrist straight.

  • Grip diameters should be comfortable for your hand, usually between 1.25 and 2 inches for single-handled tools.

  • Grip span for cutters or pliers should range between 2.5 and 3.5 inches.

  • Spring-loaded handles on cutters and pliers reduce the amount of force that's needed for use.

  • In-line or pistol-grip tools can be used, depending on position of the work.

  • Power tools with adjustable clutches help prevent high torque and sharp kickback.


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