Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Offshore Industry

Offshore work contains a plethora of dangers. Fires, explosions, falling overboard, collisions, and other serious accidents are associated with offshore work. However, there is one classification of injury that does not always receive enough attention: musculoskeletal disorders. Musculoskeletal injuries are serious, and offshore workers should know about the unique risks of their job.

What Are Musculoskeletal Disorders?

According to the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE), musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are injuries which affect the muscles, joints, tendons, or spinal discs. Workers with an MSD frequently exhibit a reduced ability to accomplish critical aspects of their job. Since an MSD can result in permanent or prolonged disability, it’s essential to know the signs.

Symptoms of an MSD include the following:

  • Pain
  • Discomfort
  • Aches
  • Numbness
  • Swelling
  • Tingling sensations

Causes of MSD in Offshore Work

An MSD is most typically caused by lifting, pulling, pushing, and carrying heavy objects. Health & Safety Middle East points out that injuries caused by these tasks on oil rigs have very little prevention research. Offshore workers accomplish some of their most strenuous and dangerous lifting while handling drill pipe slips, which can weigh as much as 250 pounds. This activity requires heavy lifting, awkward positioning, and repetition—all factors which cause MSD.

MSD Prevention

Notably, the HSE has stated that manual handling accounts for 20 percent of reported injuries from the offshore industry. It suggests that the best way to prevent these injuries is responsibility on the part of employers. Having proper procedures, equipment, and knowing when to stop a worker from doing a task is key to preventing an MSD.

The HSE suggests the following steps for employers:

  • Tackle risks that affect workers
  • Be strategic and examine many fixes for one problem
  • Ask employees for input on improving task safety
  • Try solutions and be open to modifying them before complete implementation
  • Make sure solutions work by monitoring them long after implementation
  • Always adopt technological improvements

Employers shouldn’t just consider the tips listed above—they need to. When a worker suffers from a preventable MSD, their life can change forever. Employers must protect the health of their workers and are responsible when a serious injury occurs.

What If I Am Already Suffering from an MSD from Offshore Work?

If you are suffering from injuries sustained during offshore work, you should speak with an attorney. While some companies try to blame workers for injuries, it is ultimately an employer's responsibility to make sure injuries don't happen. At Arnold & Itkin, we've stood up to some of the largest offshore companies in the world to win results for our clients. We never settle for less and are proud to be a fierce advocate for workers in the courtroom. Our dedication to clients has worked; it's produced billions of dollars in settlements and victories for them.

To find out how we can help you, call us today at (888) 346-5024 for a free consultation.

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