The knees and Back are made up of a complex system of bones, ligaments fluids and tissue and repetitive impact and stress can cause different types of injuries.
Knee and Back injuries are different from other injuries because they accumulate over time through repetitive tasks and may not be apparent instantly.
Also, Knees are complex joints and are considered the largest joints in our body. Comprised of leg bones, the knee cap, cartilage and a fluid sac for lubrication. Knee injuries are of two main types, Traumatic injuries caused by an impact like a slip, trip or fall or Overuse injuries which develop due to long term repeated actions or wear and tear.
Common terms for overuse injuries include miner’s knee or housemaid’s knee. In addition, age, physical factors like body structure and weight as well as pre-existing ailments further complicate knee conditions.
In Australia up to 10% of injury claims are knee related, and up to 38% of injury claims are back related. According to Safework Australia, 43% of all serious work-related injury claims were sprains and strains.
OHS professionals and Employers can through the hierarchy of controls, eliminate the requirement for manual lifting and bending tasks by reorganising work to reduce physical effort needed.
Alternatively the use of machinery, lift assists and ergonomic tools equipment can further reduce the strain on a workers body.
PREVENTING KNEE INJURIES
- Using the right positioning, or raising work off the floor eliminating the need to work.
- Tools and Equipment designed to perform work without requiring the worker to kneel. Example – Rolling Stools, Tool Extensions.
- Choosing less impact-full and rough surfaces to perform work on when possible and taking small breaks to relieve stress on the knees.
- Choosing Cushioning barriers like kneeling pads, knee pads or portable cushions to reduce impact on the knees.
- Correct cleaning and fitting of kneepads and other PPE to provide optimum comfort and protection.
- Use ladders and supports to descend or ascend from heights, avoiding jumping and impact.
- Wearing correct footwear on slippery oily or rough surfaces to avoid trip and falls.
- Rostering work time to avoid long periods of squatting and/or kneeling for any one worker.
- maintaining a healthy weight and strengthening the leg-muscles or muscles surrounding the knee.
Please refer to the article regarding the correct lifting techniques for clear manual handling procedures.
SELECTING THE RIGHT KNEE PROTECTION
Pryme offers a series of Ergodyne knee pads and kneeling pads, built to suit specific worker tasks in various work environments. Static kneeling work for long hours differs from swivelling or sliding across surfaces on one’s knees.
In addition to application finding the right fit and right closures to suit a worker’s level of comfort is important as with all PPE.
SWIVEL – STICK – SLIDE
The Ergodyne 300HL, 315HL and 335HL series have been designed as a complete system to fit three typical job applications. The 300HL features a short round hard cap, which best supports swivelling and pivoting.
The 315HL features a longer textured hard cap, which is great for sliding across surfaces as required by workers like airline baggage handlers.
Lastly the 335HL features a rubber cap that is slip resistant and offers excellent grip on both wet and dry surfaces for steady work.
LONG TERM STATIC KNEELING
Kneeling pads provide a barrier between the work surface and the worker’s knees excellent for constant static kneeling. The kneeling pad also cushions knees from impact when alternating between standing and kneeling throughout a shift.
Available in three different sizes, these kneeling pads are soft foam, require no fitting and strapping and can be used on delicate surfaces.
Gel knee pads offer the best comfort along with slip resistance. Gel and foam move as the knee moves and helps to displace pressure.