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Workshop designed to prevent workplace injuries

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
An accident prevention workshop was conducted recently by Hartselle Medical Center for the benefit of city of Hartselle employees. Attention was focused on carpal tunnel syndrome and back injuries.
Josh Lennox, a physical therapist at HMC, explained the causes and symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and suggested some simple hand exercises to prevent it. Tam Johnson, an occupational therapist, reviewed the components of back strain prevention and demonstrated how to properly position and use the back while lifting, sitting, walking, driving and sleeping.
Workshop participants included members of the city's safety committee, department heads or their designated representatives and Kathy Goodwin, HMC public relations/marketing director.
"We wanted to give you something you can take back and apply in a practical way to prevent on-the-job injuries and save money for the city at the same time," Goodwin told the participants. "We do this once a month for hospital employees. We have found that preventive medicine is the best medicine."
"We will take the information you have given us and share it with other city employees through departmental safety meetings," said Jeff Johnson, director of the city's department of development. "One of our goals is to instill in employees the need for them to practice good safety habits no matter what task they are doing. We have limited backup in every department and it hurts when someone is injured and can't work. Our Workman's Compensation Insurance rates are directly affected by how safely we do our jobs. And, our rates have increased substantially over the past couple of years because of job-related accidents."
Lennox said carpal tunnel syndrome is compression of the median nerve from internal or external forces. The condition may be the result of repetitive motion of the hand and fingers. When the tendons or their coverings become irritated they can swell. If it is one of the tendons in the carpal tunnel then the swelling may press on the median nerve. When that happens you can begin to lose control and/or sensation in your thumb and first three fingers.
He said a number of things might occur to cause the swelling of the median nerve. They include physical or inherited factors, such as a person's bone structure, condition, sex and age, hormonal factors, injuries, disease and cumulative trauma. A woman is three times more likely than a man to experience carpal tunnel.
He suggested flex and stretch exercises of the hand and wrist as a preventative measure.
Johnson pointed out that although the back is needed for all activities of daily living…work, play, sleep, walking, standing and sitting…it is the most abused part of the body. About eight million people will have some form of low back pain during a year. The major cause is improper bending, lifting, standing, sitting and sleeping.
She listed as components of prevention of back strain the following: posture, exercise, body mechanics, proper lifting techniques, stress reduction, rest, weight maintenance and avoid smoking.
She pointed out that improper posture and improper lifting are the two most common causes of back problems.