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What is Contact Stress?

Contact stress is concentrated pressure on a small part of the body.

This pinching or crushing of tissue causes discomfort and often pain on the localized area.

What are some of the hazards associated with Contact Stress?

Contact stress becomes a concern when kneeling or applying more pressure than normal on a joint like an elbow or wrist.

For example, our bodies are designed to sit for long periods of time without significant discomfort. While our knees and elbows can become irritated and possibly injured if a large amount pressure is placed upon them.

Below are some common cases that involve contact stress:

  • Carrying heavy loads on your shoulders.
  • Using knees or hands as a hammer to force items into place.
  • Kneeling for long periods of time while performing a task.
  • Digging holes forcing your hand into the handle of the shovel when it makes contact with the ground.
  • Hard or sharp tools digging into your hand.
  • Using hand tools with improperly designed handles or over long periods of time.
  • Body parts applying pressure on the edge of work surfaces for extended periods of time.
  • Poor work area conditions that promote award posture and contact stress.
  • Leaning against the edge of a hard work surface.
  • Marks or depressions left on the skin following using a tool.

How Can I Reduce the Risk of an Injury?

Here are some tips to working safely and preventing an injury from occurring.

  • Utilizing knee pads or gloves to pad the body.
  • Rounding or padding the edges of sharp or uneven-edged objects or workstations.
  • Distributing pressure over as wide an area as possible.
  • Utilizing tools with long handles that don’t dig into the palm of your hand.
  • Set up the work area to accommodate the worker. Changing the work to fit the worker.
  • Utilizing a jig to hold an object during precise work to avoid resting elbows on a hard work surface.
  • Always utilizing the proper tool for the task at hand.
  • Always use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gloves and knee pads when required.
  • Use soft wrist and mouse rests at computer workstations to mitigate the risk of injury.

Using Your Fist as a Hammer

Awkward Posture to Complete a Task

Leaning Against an Edge of a Hard Surface

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