The shoulder is a complex body part that consists of 3 bones, 3 joints, bursa, cartilage, numerous ligaments, tendons, and muscles. In the United States in 2015 there were over 100,000 workplace injuries involving the shoulder. Over 66% of those injuries were a sprain, strain, or tear. Some common injuries include rotator cuff tear, tendonitis, dislocation, and impingement. These are called Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs), injuries that are commonly caused by repetitive work, forceful exertions (such as lifting, pushing, or pulling something heavy), working in an awkward position, using tools that vibrate, and contact stress like working with a part of your body against a hard or sharp object.

What Are the Signs of MSDs?
1. Decreased range of motion
2. Deformity
3. Decreased grip strength
4. Loss of muscle function

What are the Symptoms of MSDs?

  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Cramping
  • Numbness
  • Burning
  • Stiffness

How Do You Prevent MSD Shoulder Injuries?

  • Stretch and warm up before beginning your work day.
  • Minimize any reaching, lifting, pulling, or pushing below your knuckles and above your shoulders, or “Strike Zone”.
  • Avoid working in an uncomfortable or awkward position, such as holding a phone to your ear with your shoulder.
  • DO NOT make sudden movements, such as twisting or jerking, while moving an object.
  • Ensure you take your break and rest. Your body needs downtime to recover and repair itself.
  • If possible, break up or stagger tasks that use the same body part to prevent overuse.
  • Complete a hazard assessment to identify where there is potential for someone to develop a shoulder injury.

Ask Yourself
1. Is there a better way to do this process?
2. Are there tools or equipment to help you move an object or assist in your job? Are they in good working order? Are
they readily available?
3. Can the work area physically be changed or improved to reduce hazardous behavior like overhead reaching or lifting?
4. Has this task brought about previous shoulder injuries? If so, where were they? What can we change to prevent these
injuries in the future?


Sources: medlineplus.gov, orthoinfo.aaos.org, www.osha.gov, www.bls.gov

Lisa Chadwick
Director of Safety and Risk Management