Upper limb disorders (ULDs) affect the arms from shoulder to fingers or the neck including problems with muscles, nerves and circulation. Sufferers can experience stiffness, pain, weakness, numbness and reduced movement. They are common in the workplace, usually because of poor posture or other factors which could be avoided.
Some tips for avoiding ULDs amongst your employees include the following:
- Be consistent and vigilant with risk assessments. Many employees (and indeed managers) consider these a waste of time, especially for those doing desk jobs, but they are essential to identify potential triggers for ULD and avoid problems developing
- When arranging new workstations, assess the potential risks from the start and factor those into the design of the workstation and decisions about appropriate equipment
- Continually evaluate tasks in your business and the potential possibility of mechanising those tasks which present greatest risk
- Reduce task repetition with use of lots of breaks, rotation of tasks and job design
- Ensure suitable equipment is provided including adjustable chairs, footrests and any specific tools for the tasks in question. Make sure these are used properly, and that workstations are laid out and used in such a way as to reduce risks
- Ensure equipment is suitable and well-maintained
- Encourage employees to bring to your attention any problems they are suffering at an early stage
In the event of an ULD manifesting itself, encourage employees to seek early treatment, and consider seeking advice yourself from an occupational health professional who should be able to advise on adjustments which can be made to enable the employee to return to work as soon as possible and prevent future problems.
As with many medical conditions, identifying and treating ULDs early is important, as well as managing the aftermath effectively to avoid repeat problems.
If you would like advice on health-related problems in your business, do get in touch.