Saturday, June 02, 2007

Hazards: Obese Employees More Likely to Be Injured on the Job

A need to design for overweight employees ...

"Companies often encourage their employees to keep their weight down as a matter of improving overall health and medical costs.

But there may be another good reason for employers to do so: workplace safety. A new study finds that overweight and obese employees are more likely to be injured on the job than other workers.

Published online in May in The American Journal of Epidemiology, the study said that workers who weigh too much were at risk for a variety of problems.

It is not just conditions caused over time by excessive stress on the overweight body, like carpal tunnel syndrome. The researchers, led by Keshia M. Pollack of Johns Hopkins University, also found a significantly higher risk of traumatic injuries from single incidents.

The study is based on a review of the medical and accident records of more than 7,600 people employed by an American aluminum manufacturing company at eight plants.

In the three years looked at, 29 percent of the workers were injured at least once. Almost 70 percent of those injuries could be treated with first aid alone, but the rest were serious enough to require the filing of a government report.

When the researchers looked at the health records of those injured, they found that 85 percent were overweight or obese. The injuries included strains and sprains, as well as back and shoulder injuries.

There are a number of possible explanations, the study said. Overweight people may be more prone to fatigue, which can help lead to injury. Their overall health is likely to be worse, and they may be taking medications that could affect alertness.

Then there is the problem of using safety equipment designed for smaller people."    (Continued via New York Times)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Weight Hazard - Ergonomics

Weight Hazard

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