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Management must consider that production workers may be physically deconditioned when restarting work. It is important for all employees to understand physical deconditioning, how it may impact their ability to jump back into standard working procedures, and how it may increase musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) risk. Here are some ways to help employees prepare to restart work:

General Ergonomics Awareness Training

Have all employees complete general ergonomics awareness training to gain a full understanding of what ergonomics is, why it is important for everyone, and what is expected of them in relation to ergonomics. All workers should also know the primary MSD hazards so they can identify and report ergonomics issues at their own workstation.

Ergonomics Self-Assessments

Train each employee to complete an ergonomics self-assessment. Use a qualitative assessment tool, such as VelocityEHS Ergonomics Hit List®, to enable employees to assess each task within their day-to-day job.

Review Standard Operating Procedures

Instruct each employee to review standard operating procedures (SOP). Each SOP should be up to date and available to review prior to restarting work. This can help workers recall all steps in the process or prepare for the next model production. Ultimately, it can help reduce errors and improve product quality.

Take A Break

Encourage employees to take all available breaks throughout the day. Breaks from physical activity allow time for muscle recovery.

Limit Overtime Hours

Prevent additional physical stress by limiting overtime hours. Employers should consider having more employees work fewer hours, as opposed to having fewer employees work more hours.

Focus on Fitness and Well-Being

Encourage employees to focus on personal fitness and overall well-being during their personal time. Advise them to take daily walks to maintain cardiovascular fitness and try at-home workouts to maintain muscle strength and overall fitness.

Proactively Communicate Physical Discomfort

Encourage employees to proactively communicate physical discomfort to their supervisor. Whether it is through weekly discomfort surveys or ergonomics self-assessments, this communication can help identify issues and address them before they progress to an MSD.

Consider these tips to help make employees’ jobs easier as they restart work and get used to the physical demands of their jobs. Not only can these ideas help prevent or reduce the onset on MSDs, but they can help improve product quality, employee efficiency, and employee satisfaction.