Impact of Workplace Ergonomics on the Opioid CrisisNovember 20, 2019
One of the main contributors to the ongoing opioid epidemic in this country is workplace musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). In fact, according to data from the Utah Department of Health, the Office of Medical Examiners, and the Labor Commission on all Utah residents, workers in industries that involve a significant amount of physically demanding work, like construction, transportation, and health care, suffer some of the highest rates of opioid-related overdose deaths. Companies that make it a priority to incorporate ergonomics into their workplace are more likely to improve employee well-being and enhance their business performance. Companies that do not practice ergonomics are more likely to have an increase in workplace MSDs that require prescription opioids for pain relief.
What are Musculoskeletal Disorders?
MSDs are soft tissue injuries that impact the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. These painful disorders can distress many parts of the body, but injuries typically involve the hands, shoulders, elbows, and back. These injuries are generally caused by exposure to high frequencies and vibrations, forceful exertions, awkward postures, and other biomechanical risk factors. Proper ergonomics are designed to optimize human performance and reduce the risk of injury.
MSDs are responsible for close to one-third of all occupational injuries and illnesses in the United States, resulting in a median of nine days of missed work.
Over-exertion, including manual lifting, lowering, pushing, puling, carrying, or throwing account for 25 percent of all occupational injuries. In addition, MSDs caused by forceful exertions are a growing problem globally.
Disturbing Statistics about Opioids
Prescription opioids, synthetic opioids, and heroin have been responsible for a growing number of drug overdoses and suicides since 2000.
- Over 47,000 people die each year from opioid overdoses in the U.S.
- This translates to about 130 deaths per day, or one every 12 minutes.
- Opioid overdose death rates have increased by close to 500 percent in the past 20 years.
Research shows that injured workers are prescribed opioids at a faster rate and at a higher dose, so that they can return to work sooner. Unfortunately, prescription opioids are highly addictive, and can lead to fatal drug overdoses. To prevent injured workers from becoming addicted to opioids, it is critical for employers to implement the appropriate interventions that address workplace hazards. Incorporating effective ergonomics is crucial to helping workers complete tasks while preventing injuries like MSDs. Employers are urged to establish comprehensive programs that identify, analyze, and control risk factors put workers at risk for MSDs.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Workplace Injuries
If you suffered a workplace injury due to unsafe work conditions or a lack of effective ergonomics, contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. Musculoskeletal injuries can be extremely painful, and doctors will often prescribe potent, and highly addictive opioids for pain relief. Many MSDs can be prevented if employers incorporate ergonomics in the work environment. Our skilled legal team will work tirelessly to ensure that you receive the full financial benefits you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online. Located in Baltimore, we serve clients throughout Maryland.