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Biological and Ergonomic Hazards

Biological and Ergonomic Hazards

Identifying, evaluating, communicating, and controlling hazards in work environments is one of the primary duties of regulatory bodies like OSHA in the United States. In most instances, this concerted effort aims to reduce environmental stressors that are more likely to cause impairment, illness, injury, or harm to the well-being of employees and community members. Ergonomic hazards (which are situations/elements that cause injury, strain, or discomfort in the line of duty, such as the environment, objects, and systems), as well as biological hazards (which are biohazards or biological elements that can impact the well-being and health people and other living things), are some of the leading causes of injuries, diseases, deaths, and loss of work in the U.S. Ergonomic hazards. According to OSHA, MSDs (musculoskeletal diseases) accounted for at least 33 percent of all illnesses and injuries in the workplace in the United States (U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, n.d.). As a safety and health manager, it is important to identify ergonomic hazards that workers are exposed to in a ship construction firm and then craft a plan to address these concerns to prevent future injuries and propose a strategy to avert exposure to biological hazards.

Identify ergonomic hazards to which workers may be exposed, particularly the ones leading to back injury, and design a plan to address this concern and prevent future injuries.

According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2008, the shipyard workplace is a very complex one because workers are often required to build, maintain, demolish, or repair barges, military ships, tankers, fishing vessels, and cargo carriers. Typically, the work in a shipyard entails forming and fabricating large steel pipes, beams, and plates, as well as coating and painting. Furthermore, welding and outfitting activities, including sheet metal work and electrical cables. Work in the shipyard is mainly categorized into three main sections: activities in the shop, in the yard, as well as on the vessel. A study conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor (2008) revealed that ergonomic hazards tend to cause back injuries as well as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among employees (CDC, 2014). The common symptoms of MSDS include soft tissue swelling, pain, tingling, numbness, and restriction of joint motion. Employees also tend to complain of recurring general pain in the shoulder, sprains and strains of lower back muscles (often associated with pain), lower extremity MSDs, low back disorders, and hand-arm vibration syndrome. Do you need help with your assignment ? Hire our assignment writing services in case your assignment is devastating you.

Studies have demonstrated that MSDs as well as back injuries, usually develop due to intensive and repetitive work. Also, these injuries and diseases might appear when workers assume static and awkward body postures, particularly for prolonged periods. Therefore, because shipyards resemble similar work environments, the common ergonomic hazards employees are often exposed to include:

  • Vibration
  • Force
  • Repetition
  • Prolonged and awkward static body postures
  • Contact stress
  • Cold temperatures

Plan to Address Ergonomic Hazards and Prevent Future Injuries

Just like other manufacturing and maintenance sites, OSHA has provided a list of guidelines that managers in shipyards can implement and follow to reduce the risk of MSDs as well as back injuries. Even though sometimes specific guidelines should be tailored to meet unique, the following is a list of rules that can lower the incidence of ergonomic hazards in shipyards:

  • Offering management support

Strong support from managers is vital for the general success of any ergonomic process in the shipyard. OSHA stipulates that a shipyard needs to identify clear objectives and goals for the ergonomic process, talk about them with staff members, assign duties to the designated employees to meet those objectives, and offer feedback to workers.

  • Involving staff members

Workers are the primary and most reliable sources of information about hazards in the shipyard because they have a unique understanding and insight into the major issues of their work. Thus, managers need to consult and involve them to be able to identify all the work-related risks. Employee suggestions and opinions for change can provide resourceful information in workplaces as complex as shipyards. They cannot only give early reports and indications of back injuries and MSD symptoms but can also submit their suggestions and concerns for lowering exposure to risk factors (Institute of Medicine, 2000).

  • Providing training

Training is a critical part of the ergonomic process because it guarantees that workers are well-informed about ergonomic problems in the shipyard and measures to lower the risk of injury. For training to be effective, it should be provided in a language that all workers understand. Training is typically the best way to prepare workers for active participation in the ergonomic process. Therefore, effective training should provide instructions on the proper use of machine controls, tools, and equipment. It should also entail training on good work practices, such as proper lifting methods, knowledge and awareness of work assignments that might lead to injury/pain, identification of early symptoms of back injury and MSDs, and ways to address these early signs. Finally, according to Healey & Walker (2009), training should include shipyard procedures/protocols for reporting work-related illnesses and injuries as stipulated by OSHA’s reporting and recording code (29 CFR 1904).

Design a plan to prevent exposure to biological hazards in your workforce.

Like chemical hazards, the first step to controlling biohazards is creating an environment that fosters biohazard control, including training employees on how to handle and dispose of biological wastes and providing warning signs that alert workers of the dangerous biological wastes and how to handle them. The next measure is to provide protective clothing, including gumboots, gloves, face masks, goggles, and aprons. Also, it is critical to implement engineering measures that will reduce employee exposure to biological hazards, including providing ventilation. Waste disposal protocols and warning signs can also be placed everywhere in the workplace so that workers are constantly reminded of what biological elements pose the greatest disease and injury risks in the shipyard. Control measures should also be stipulated based on the severity of biohazards (Montano, 2014).


CDC. (2016). Ergonomics and musculoskeletal disorders. Retrieved at

Healey, B. J., & Walker, K. T. (2009). Chapter 11: Ergonomics. In Public health/environmental health: Introduction to occupational health in public health practice. Hoboken, NJ, USA: Jossey-Bass.

Institute of Medicine. (2000). Chapter 3: The changing workforce. In Safe Work in the 21st Century: Education and training needs for the next decade’s occupational safety and health personnel. Washington, DC, USA: National Academies Press.

Montano, D. (2014). Chemical and biological work-related risks across occupations in Europe: A review. Journal of Occupational Medicine and Toxicology, 9, 28-41.

U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. (2008). Occupational safety & health administration: Guidelines for shipyards. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Labor Statistics. (n.d.). Overview: Prevention of musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace. Retrieved from 


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Module 3 – SLP


Biological and Ergonomic Hazards

Biological and Ergonomic Hazards

In this SLP, you will be a health and safety manager in a company that has a manufacturing facility with multiple occupational hazards. This setting could be a place where you currently work, one that you may be familiar with, or one that you just find interesting.

In the facility there have been many workers compensation claims for back injury and chronic back pain. Also, there has recently been concern for exposure to biological hazards when accidents occur and there is potential for exposure to blood or body fluid. For this SLP, and in the context of your SLP project:

  • Identify ergonomic hazards to which workers may be exposed, particularly the ones leading to back injury, and design a plan to address this concern and prevent future injuries.
  • Design a plan to prevent exposure to biological hazards in your workforce.

SLP Assignment Expectations

Use information from your module readings/articles as well as appropriate research to support your paper.

Length: The SLP assignment should be 3-5 pages long (double-spaced).

Assessment and Grading: Your paper will be assessed based on the performance assessment rubric that is linked within the course. Review it before you begin working on the assignment. Your work should adhere to these MSHS Assignment Expectations.

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