Manual Material Handling (MMH) activities (i.e. lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, and carrying) pose the risk of injury to the musculoskeletal system of the workers. The injuries may lead to decreased work performance, and increased errors, absenteeism and health care cost. Therefore, it is necessary to know whether the workers of one of the Oil and Gas Company in Thailand are facing with the injury problem and to find the solutions for preventing those injuries.
The procedure of the solution is walk-through survey of hazards and risks of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSDs) among the workers (both onshore and offshore platforms) whose works involved in MMH tasks and providing the recommendation and followed up by Medical and Occupational Health team of the Company together with the physical therapists from one of the famous academic institute in Thailand who are collectively called "the research team".
The research team conducted a walk-through survey and performed preliminary physical examination at an onshore and all offshore platforms. The survey included characteristics of each work, intensity and frequency of workload, work environment and potential risk factors. Physical fitness assessment including muscle power and weakness was also determined.
The findings from the walk-through surveys, work procedure were analyzed to identify risk factors of work-related musculoskeletal injuries. The findings from preliminary physical examination in approximately 300 operating workers, upper cross and lower cross syndromes were found, indicating muscle imbalance in MMH workers. Task activities were analyzed on each procedure which has risk factors including awkward posture, repetitive movement, manual handling, forceful exertion, work environment, equipment, and cognitive and psychosocial issues. The research team reported risk factors with consequences and provided recommendation for each factor regarding engineering, administrative, and individual controls. For example, offshore platform has many floors which are designed for particular function (office, bedroom, dining room, etc.). Offshore workers regularly perform high repetitive stepping up and down stairs making them prone to hip and leg muscles imbalance. There is high compression at knee joint which may lead to early degenerative joint or knee pain. The recommendation is to provide properly work break and training with principle of ergonomics in workplaces including ergonomic risk factors; risk prevention; and strengthening exercise.
Findings on this study lead to the specific designed exercise program and training to counteract the effect of heavy musculoskeletal activities related to MMH in daily work. The study will also serve as a guide for developing of MMH guideline for the company.