NIOSH Evaluation Pinpoints Eyeglass Manufacturing Injuries

The Health Hazard Evaluation involved musculoskeletal disorders among surfacing and finishing department employees at three facilities.

NIOSH has posted Health Hazard Evaluation Report 2010-0114-3168, a document explaining its investigation of musculoskeletal disorders among eyeglass surfacing and finishing department employees at three manufacturing facilities in Minnesota. Managers submitted an HHE request in 2010 asking NIOSH to investigate potential ergonomics hazards.

The report includes photos of tools and workstations these employees use, and it summarizes confidential interviews conducted with 60 of the 235 workers; most of the 60 names came from lists of employees who had reported an MSD to a supervisor within the prior year, with these lists supplied by managers at all three facilities.

Upper extremity symptoms were most common, although some workers reported back, wrist, shoulder, or hand pain. When interviewed, workers said overtime and the lack of job rotation contributed to their symptoms. They associated tasks such as bending, reaching, pushing lenses into frames, screwing and unscrewing, and washing and wiping lenses with their symptoms. The investigators checked 19 employees' medical records to determine how many of them underwent surgery, physical therapy, or joint injections. Three of the 19 had undergone surgery, and three were put on permanent work restrictions, according to the report prepared by Jessica G. Ramsey, MS, CPE, and Loren Tapp, MD, MS.

They calculated the facilities' reportable injury rates as being above those of other plants in the ophthalmic goods manufacturing industry for 2007-2009 but declined in 2010. Their recommendations include administrative controls and suggested engineering controls, such as using conveyors, magnetic screwdrivers, and air-powered lens driers and placing computer screens and work surfaces at optimal heights.

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