Preventing Injury and Illness to Service Workers in Tourism-Related Jobs – Part IV: Ergonomics

Service workers are at risk for injury and illness every day, whether they work as housekeeper, landscaper, kitchen staff or nurse, to name a few.   The best way to prevent injuries and illness is to go through a hazard analysis of your workplace which includes the building and the grounds outside of the property wherever employees may work.  This four part blogs series will cover the major areas that these types of service workers are at risk for and ways they can be prevented. 

Ergonomics is the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its  movements, and its cognitive abilities.  It is applied to maintain the proper health of the worker while still maximizing productivity.  Ergonomics is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries, which can lead to long-term injuries and disabilities.  The main areas of concern are whether the worker is using manual and power tools, how the work is scheduled, and what kind of work is being done.  The decision to use manual tools or power tools is a major decision for service workers like landscapers or maintenance workers.  Repetitive use of manual tools is going to make the user tired and sore, whenever possible make it easier on yourself and use a power tool.  You will be less tired and sore, allowing you to work faster and more efficiently.  How the work is scheduled is a major area of concern especially with service workers, long shifts where workers are continuously on their feet and doing the same repetitive motion are going to greatly increase chances of aches and strains.  Always make sure the proper amounts of breaks are taken to avoid over exertion.  Finally, the type of work that is being done is going to have a significant effect on the workers risk of muscle injury.  For house keepers and janitors, everything they do is a potential hazard.  Constantly changing bed linens, lifting mattresses, cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming, doing the laundry, and pushing or pulling a cart greatly increases chances of a muscle strain.  These types of workers are constantly repeating the same sets of motions over and over again, practically ever twenty minutes. 

The three main injury categories are over exertion, repetitive motion, and the bodily reaction where you hurt yourself bending, twisting, lifting, or tripping without falling.  These kinds of injuries cost more than all the other types injuries combined.  In the article “2008 Safety Index: Ergonomics Related Injuries Top Disabling Injury Cost” written by Jennifer Anderson and Peter Budnick on, they estimate in 2006 of the $48.6 billion in direct workers compensation costs in the US, $30.9 billion or 63.6% was due to ergonomics-related injuries.  The main injuries were pain in the back, shoulder, knee; muscle strains; and repetitive motion injuries. 

The best ways to prevent ergonomics-related injuries are to avoid over exerting yourself, stretching frequently, taking the proper amount of breaks, and always using the proper equipment for a task.  All of these are preventative measures to do on your own, but call United Alliance Services for proper training in other preventative measures and the proper way to apply them.  Contact UASC today at (877) 399-1698 or visit our website.