Repetitive injuries in the manufacturing industry

Did you know that common injuries sustained by manufacturing workers are to joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons?

Two men and one woman in a warehouse with the men carrying cardboard boxes over their heads.

The manufacturing industry has a large number of work-related injuries, and repetitive movements are the cause of many of these.

Here’s what you need to know to protect your employees from repetitive work injuries and keep your people safe.

Workplace injuries in the manufacturing sector

The manufacturing sector has many inherent risks, such as injuries from manual handling tasks that can be caused from typical movements like lifting, carrying and handling boxes or containers.

For many years, the manufacturing industry has consistently been one of the industries with the highest number of serious injury claims, with the top two injuries in manufacturing being:

  • Traumatic joint/ligament and muscle/tendon injuries: 44.4 per cent
  • Wounds, lacerations and other conditions related to trauma: 34.6 per cent.

Repetitive tasks and injuries

We know our bodies aren’t designed to do the same thing over and over, and repetitive tasks at work increase the risk of injuries.

What are repetitive tasks?

These tasks can include packing, typing, assembling, cleaning and sorting, using hand tools, operating machinery and equipment, and handling and restraining animals.

Repetitive injuries include occupational overuse syndrome (OOS), which is also known as repetitive strain injury or RSI. This refers to injuries caused or aggravated by work and is usually associated with repetitive movement, sustained or constrained postures and/or forceful movements. The result is repeated, prolonged or excessive strain on a particular muscle group leading to the wearing out of soft tissue.

More broadly, many people also understand OOS to include overuse injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, hand/arm vibration syndrome, trigger finger, golfer’s elbow, and tennis elbow.

Symptoms of OOS can include any of the following:

  • pain: aching, shooting or burning sensations
  • tingling, loss of strength or numbness in the hands and arms
  • clumsiness
  • loss of sensation in the fingers, or whiteness in the tips
  • difficulty with everyday tasks involving strength in the hands and arms, such as doing up buttons, opening doors, turning on taps, or holding a cup.

Sub-sectors that are at high risk of manual tasks injuries in NSW include food manufacturing and metal product manufacturing.

Preventing injuries

Read more about how to prevent some of these common occupational overuse syndrome or repetitive strain injuries.

icare helps NSW businesses take practical steps to reduce and prevent injuries in the workplace as part of our voluntary Protect Together program.