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.

  • Minimize reaching distance and twisting by adjusting the work height or moving the objects within close reach.
  • Adjust body position by moving objects in front of you and use the appropriate tools to keep the wrist straight.
  • Take frequent short breaks to give muscles adequate recovery time and when applicable adjust the layout of your workstation.
  • If possible raise or lower the work area for better access to reduce tilting your head more than 30 degrees.
  • Ensure that work area is well light and glare is reduced to prevent the use of awkward postures.
  • Keep the work are clear and free of clutter and obstacles you may be forced to work around.

Reaching Above Shoulder Heights

Kneeling, Squatting and Bending at the Waist

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