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Reducing workplace injuries? There will be an app for that

When a product has a "Made in the U.S.A." sticker on it, we know that workers in American factories gave their labor and time to bring the item to North Carolina stores and homes. We also know that inevitably some of those employees will suffer workplace injuries.

That is an inescapable reality about manufacturing jobs requiring physical labor: some workers will get hurt. Often their injuries are caused by repetitive motions; motions that result in carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and other musculoskeletal problems. However, a team of researchers says they might one day soon be able to help reduce the risks of those injuries by making use of smartphones.

"We want to solve these problems before people get hurt," a professor of engineering at the University of Wisconsin says.

At present, safety professionals assess workplace injury risks by observing many workers over long periods of time, making assessments of the workers' activities. The process is slow and based on subjective evaluations of risk, so it can result in mistakes.

The engineering professor says we hold the technology needed to improve the process and reduce risks of workplace injuries in our hands. He says our smartphones have the processing power and cameras needed.

He and his team are working on an app that would enable employers to aim a smartphone at workers, take video of their activities and have the workers' motions analyzed. The employers would then get information on how to improve ergonomics, speed of motion, distance, and other factors that will reduce stress and injuries.

Charlotte employees who have had workers' compensation claims denied can speak with an an attorney experienced in effective appeals.

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