The Art of Ergonomics

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By Carl Hamilton
Loss Control and Risk Supervisor
CopperPoint

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), one-third of all employee injury and illness cases are musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that occur in the workplace. These injuries add up to the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time.

MSDs commonly affect the muscles, nerves, ligaments, and tendons due to poor posture or chronic, repetitive motion. The most common examples of MSDs are:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tendinitis
  • Injuries affecting the shoulder, back and elbow

Historically, companies took employees and put them in a job. In ergonomics, the study of fitting a job to a person, employee safety and productivity comes first. When there is a focus on ergonomics, companies can help lessen muscle fatigue and reduce the number and severity of work-related MSDs.

Start With a Plan

If an employer has workers who are exposed to repetitive motion, a written ergonomics plan may help prevent injuries. Not sure where to begin? Here are some of the best practices I’ve learned from conducting thousands of ergonomic assessments during my career.

  • Analyze risk. Every job has an inherent risk, and it’s critical for employers to be aware of them. Some of highest risk occupations for injury are nurses, firefighters, janitors, cleaners, stock clerks, and production workers. At CopperPoint, we conduct a work station ergonomic study anytime an employee is shorter than 5 feet 4 inches or taller than 6 feet. Consider business cycles, too. If you own an accounting firm, your employees may be at a higher risk during tax season. Awareness is critical to plan and prioritize your efforts.
  • Did I say prioritize? If 80 percent of your staff works on a computer, but only 15 percent are full-time, prioritize corrective action and focus on the full-time employees who are most at risk for injury.
  • Seek expertise. Outside council with certified ergonomists is well worth the effort.
    Partner. Your insurance carrier is a valuable resource.
  • Build a corrective action plan. Do your research and build a long-term plan that is measurable and will stand up even when budgets are tight.

For more information on ergonomics and workplace safety, visit www.osha.gov or http://ergo.human.cornell.edu/

Carl Hamilton is a Loss Control and Risk Management supervisor at CopperPoint Insurance Companies, a leading provider of workers’ compensation insurance and property and casualty insurance products. Hamilton has conducted thousands of ergonomic assessments during his career. He is an active member in the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), National Safety Council (NSC) and the National Association of Safety Professionals. Hamilton holds a bachelor’s degree in public safety administration and emergency management from Grand Canyon University.

Strong West Valley Outlook for 2017

WESTMARC, the Western Maricopa Coalition of West Valley communities, businesses, and the educational sector, outlined its 2017 priorities during the organization’s annual meeting on Feb 23. Sintra Hoffman, President and CEO of WESTMARC, shared these insights and more with members, government officials, and invited guests. The group’s top priority is promoting economic development, workforce talent and job growth that is vital to the 15 unique communities that call the West Valley home.

Recent data collection efforts indicate that Maricopa County’s West Valley is home to 1.5 million people. By the year 2020, that number is projected to grow to 1.8 million people. More than fifty-eight percent of the population is eligible workers between the ages of 18 to 64, and the average annual income is approximately $65,000.

“We are a community rich in talent. But our talent is also the West Valley’s greatest export,” said Hoffman. “Our goal is to retain the engineers, health care professionals and manufacturing personnel who live here, but drive and work in other parts of the Valley.”

From left, WESTMARC President & CEO Sintra Hoffman, Maricopa County District 3 Supervisor Bill Gates, Tolleson Mayor Anna Tovar and State Rep. Jesus Rubalcava discuss economic development issues.

In her annual address, Hoffman presented WESTMARC’s 2017 strategy which includes creating a long-term workforce plan to keep these workers employed in the region. Healthcare, advanced manufacturing, insurance, aerospace, and defense are the top economic drivers. Banner Health, Luke Air Force Base, American Express, Grand Canyon University and Amazon are the area’s top employers.

She highlighted additional measures on the horizon for WESTMARC to fuel the economic development and job growth that is vital to the West Valley. These activities include:

  • Completion of a data collection effort
  • Strengthen the workforce development strategy
  • Conduct industry focus groups
  • Strengthen connections between industry and education
  • Update WESTMARC website
  • Promote quality of life
  • Celebrate Best of the West 25th anniversary

For more information, visit WESTMARC.

CopperPoint is a proud member of WESTMARC’s Chairman’s Circle.

Change is Inevitable, but Our Work Remains the Same

ss-paul-j-luna-final-headshot-041415By Paul Luna, President and CEO
Helios Education Foundation

With a highly charged and divisive presidential election behind us, emotional shock waves continue to ripple through our communities. No matter our party affiliations, it should concern us all that some of the ripple effects of the elections are leading to alarming activities in our neighborhoods. Even more troubling is that some of these activities are happening in our schools and impacting our students, creating fear and uncertainty for their future.

As leaders and advocates for improving our education system and ensuring that every student — regardless of where they were born, who their parents are or where they live — is prepared to succeed beyond high school, now, more than ever, we must hold steadfast Continue reading