When marking price tags, a person may go through hundreds of label applications in a session. Due to this repeated action, workers should be aware of the possibility of repetitive stress injury if they are using poor body mechanics. Here are a few guidelines that workers should be aware of to keep themselves safe and healthy in the workplace.
Don’t Flex — Use Your Muscles
Use large body motions rather than small-range wrist flexing to apply labels. Just because your wrist can pivot to extreme angles doesn’t mean that those are good positions for it. The muscles that control smaller movements cannot handle the strain that comes with constant, repeated motion.
Not Too Close, Not Too Far
Hold items at a middle distance from yourself while handling them. Your elbows should be at about a 90˚ angle so that nothing is too tight against yourself nor too far and extended. When things are held in this middle range, the weight of the load is divided among the arms, shoulders, and torso, making the objects much easier to manipulate.
Keep a Straight Wrist…
Keep your wrist as straight as possible. In perfect posture, the top of your wrist and hand should line up to form a table. When gripping a label applicator, your wrist will naturally adjust the angle of the hand to compensate for the bulk. However, the angle should not be too far in either direction. When the wrist is held in a contorted position, it will easily grow fatigued and may lead to injury through repetition.
…And a Straight Back
If you have to bend down frequently to reach for or place objects on low shelves, avoid bending over at the waist. Instead you should keep your back straight and let your legs do the work. Otherwise the muscles in the small of your back will take the load of your upper body, which will eventually cause strain. The thigh muscles are much more able to take the weight of your body.
Stay in shape. It is more difficult to fatigue muscles and joints that are regularly worked hard and kept in good condition. Exercise will also improve your circulation system, helping your body function more efficiently. When your body is toned and fit, it will assume correct posturing more naturally.
If you feel you may be suffering from repetitive stress injury, pay close attention to how you move while working, especially in moments when you feel pain. Stretch frequently and take periodic breaks to restore blood flow and let muscles relax. If the problem persists, consult with your doctor or a physical therapist.