Thomas Fisher; Role of Occupational Therapy in Preventing Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders With Recycling Workers: A Pilot Study. Am J Occup Ther 2016;71(1):7101190030. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2017.022871
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Little is known about injury prevention in recycling workers; therefore, in this study, I aimed to identify physical and psychosocial risk factors for employees involved in single-stream recycling and to explore strategies for prevention and wellness. Fifteen participants who were either recycling workers or supervisors located throughout seven locations on an urban university campus participated. A mixed-methods research design was used to obtain data through a variety of standardized work environment and health questionnaires and semistructured interviews. Approximately 80% of participants expressed satisfaction with their jobs; 50% reported having a musculoskeletal injury; and 33% reported a lack of support from coworkers or supervisors, which created stress and anxiety. Additional risk factors included poor body mechanics, equipment issues, poor social interactions, and lack of supervisor knowledge for prevention. Occupational therapy practitioners are well situated to support preventive interventions that address the combined physical and psychosocial needs of recycling workers.
Recycling workers are part of a growing occupational category, and they require increased training and attention to workplace injury prevention practices.
Occupational therapy practitioners are holistically trained and well situated to support education and interventions necessary to reduce both physical and psychosocial risk factors for WRMDs in the recycling industry—specifically for proper body mechanics, preventive stretching, equipment and task modifications, stress management, and interpersonal skills training.
Given risk factors identified in this and other similar studies, increased large-scale research studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of preventive interventions and training within the recycling industry.
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