Despite the advances in automation and computer technology made in the past few decades, many manufacturing plants in the United States and abroad still rely on human labor to build and package their products. This type of work can be repetitive and physically demanding. Workers in these positions are prone to repetitive stress injuries, injuries suffered due to the repeated use and pressure on a specific area of the body.
Currently, an app to reduce repetitive stress injuries in manufacturing environments is in development. Rob Radwin, a professor of industrial systems engineering at University of Wisconsin in Madison, has studied the issue of repetitive stress injuries in industrial workplaces for the past two decades. He and his students developed computer vision algorithms to calculate hand activity level among workers and has received a $1.4 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to develop an app to measure hand activity patterns to assess the injury risks of each job. Ideally, this will help industries redesign jobs and create new safety protocols to reduce workers’ risk of being injured.
Repetitive Stress Injuries in the Workplace
Repetitive stress injuries are unlike other types of injury because they are not the result of a single event such as a work-related accident. Rather, they develop over time as the tasks of the job put repeated stress on specific areas of the worker’s body.
A few examples of repetitive stress injuries that manufacturing and factory workers risk include:
• Carpal tunnel syndrome. This is the numbing and tingling of the hand and arm caused by the swelling of the bone and ligament in the wrist, which puts pressure on the nerves
• Tendinitis. This is the tearing of the small tissues connecting the bones to the muscles
• Tenosynovitis. When the boundary of a tendon and its surrounding sheath becomes irritated, the individual can suffer pain
• Cervical radiculopathy. This is caused by the compression of the discs in the neck, often caused by pressure on the shoulders
• Myofascial damage. This is the chronic pain that results from pressure on sensitive points in the muscles.
Using Smartphone Technology to Reduce Injuries and Keep Workers Safe
Computers can compile and analyze data far more efficiently than a human can. By using machine learning technology to recognize and interpret workers’ hand and arm movements, as proposed by Radwin, we can recognize which movement patterns are most correlated with certain injuries. Smartphones are light, portable, and most importantly, nearly everybody carries one everywhere. Computers can give a more precise, objective analysis of the information they record. Radwin’s goal for this app is to utilize high-speed processors, high-definition cameras, and cloud computing technology to assess injury risks.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at E.S. Borjeson & Associates Help Injured Workers Secure Benefits
A workplace injury can leave you out of work for weeks, months, or even the rest of your life. If you have suffered an injury in your workplace and you are considering seeking Workers’ Compensation to cover your lost wages and medical expenses, work with an experienced lawyer to pursue your claim. Complete our online form or call 215-772-3020 to schedule your free consultation with a seasoned Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyer at E.S. Borjeson & Associates. Our office is located in Philadelphia and serves clients throughout Pennsylvania.