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How to use data to make a case for MSD program
If you only count the musculoskeletal injuries reported in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Form 300, Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses, you may be left with insufficient evidence that a prevention program is justified.
"The OSHA 300 Log will give you this information to an extent, but these are only the reported injuries. Many chronic exposure injuries are underreported," says Susan Murphey, BS, CECD, president of Essential WorkWellness in Shoreline, WA. "Lack of complaints shouldn't deter you from moving forward."
To get a more accurate idea of the number of musculoskeletal injuries in your workplace, Murphy recommends doing an anonymous symptom survey. This way, she says, workers can report symptoms without fearing any repercussions.
Ask these questions: How long have you been on the job? How long have you been doing this type of work? Do you have any symptoms related to work? If so, what body area? "Draw an outline of the body and let them mark it," says Murphey.
Ask whether there have been any recent modifications to the employee's usual duties, the frequency and severity of pain, and whether they received medical treatment. "If so, ask if they used their personal medical benefits, workers compensation, or paid out of pocket," says Murphey. "That's when you find out that there are a lot of symptoms going on under the radar."
If you go solely by your OSHA 300 logs, you're unlikely to find enough injuries to substantiate getting administrative support and monies allocated, explains Murphey. "But if you find out 100% of the staff is symptomatic and used sick or vacation time because of an injury, suddenly they will sit up and pay attention," she says.