Improving ergonomics in the operating room for orthopaedic surgeons in order to reduce work-related musculoskeletal injuries.Ann Med Surg (Lond). 2020 Aug; 56:133-138.AM
Orthopaedic surgery is characterized by surgical tasks that are physical, repetitive and require some degree of stamina from the surgeon. Occupational injuries are alarmingly common in orthopaedic surgery with two-thirds of all surgeons reporting a work-related musculoskeletal (MSK) injury during their career. One of the leading causes of the high level of MSK injuries among orthopaedic surgeon is lack of ergonomics of the operating room. Implementing an ergonomic process has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of developing MSK disorders in other high-risk industries. We reviewed well-established and effective ergonomic guidelines from the industrial workplace and determined the pertinent principles that could be transferred to the operating room to help reduce the number and severity of common orthopaedic work-related MSK injuries.
We reviewed the ergonomic guidelines, primarily from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), that specifically address minimizing the risk of these work-related injuries and that are transferable to the operating room. In addition, the ergonomic guidelines from the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were reviewed.
Many of the guidelines to avoid work-related injuries in industry are transferable to the operating room. The pertinent guidelines clearly indicated how to adjust the height of the operating table, the proper design of hand and power tools and the modifications to the operating room environment that can help prevent injury. These guidelines from industry include maintaining a neutral posture and joint alignment, working with the appropriate hand tools and minimizing the lower extremity fatigue by using the proper footwear and floor mats.
Optimizing the occupational environment and utilizing well-established ergonomic principle from industry is both feasible and practical in the operating room to decrease the incidence of musculoskeletal injuries among this high-risk profession. These guidelines are simple, effective and are easy to implement by orthopaedic surgeons in order to minimize their risk of sustaining a work-related injury.