Repetitive motion can lead to workplace injuries


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Musculoskeletal Disorders

Sometimes referred to as ergonomic injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, or MSDs, develop when a person uses muscles, tendons and ligaments to perform tasks in awkward positions or in frequent activities that, over time, create pain and injury. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics refers to MSDs as the combination of certain injuries or illnesses and events or exposures. MSDs do not include disorders caused by slips, trips, falls or similar incidents.

Here are examples of possible MSD-related injuries or illnesses:

  • pinched nerve
  • herniated disc
  • meniscus tear
  • sprains, strains, tears
  • hernia (traumatic and nontraumatic)
  • pain, swelling and numbness
  • carpal or tarsal tunnel syndrome
  • Raynaud’s syndrome or phenomenon
  • other musculoskeletal systems and connective tissue diseases and disorders

One of the following events or exposures would have led to the MSD-related injury or illness:

  • overexertion and bodily reaction
  • overexertion involving outside sources
  • repetitive motion involving microtasks
  • other multiple exertions or bodily reactions
  • rubbed, abraded or jarred by vibration

According to the National Safety Council, injuries stemming from overexertion are the second leading cause of injuries involving days away from work, resulting in an average of 14 lost days of work per injured employee. Notre Dame’s statistics mirror national trends. Over the past 10 years, MSDs have been the University’s second leading cause of injury, with more than half of all strain injuries resulting in an employee unable to work or capable of performing limited tasks. The loss of healthy staff members exacerbates staffing challenges and reduces staff efficiency.  

Schedule an appointment with an expert to assess campus work environments for possible ergonomics risks:

  • Risk Management and Safety offers an Ergonomics Program to identify processes to improve the overall health and safety of employees. Contact Erin Hafner, assistant director for environmental and health, at with questions about the program or to schedule.
  • Occupational health nurses from the Notre Dame Wellness Center can also facilitate office and job task ergonomic evaluations. To schedule a visit, call 574-631-2371. 

Risk Management and Safety and the National Safety Council provide several resources for understanding MSDs and ways to prevent them. 

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