The Art of Ergonomics

Featured

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.

Angel Night Puts Extra Twinkle in ‘The Nutcracker’

By Natalie Salvione
Ballet Arizona

angel-night-1-img_0077At Ballet Arizona, our holiday season does not truly begin until we start rehearsing for “The Nutcracker.” “The Waltz of the Flowers” can be heard in the studios in the middle of October and does not stop until our last show on December 24. The beautiful music is one of the unwavering details that makes this performance magical. Another is our Angel Night performance of “The Nutcracker,” which will take place on December 8.

angel-night-2-dscn3472The evening before opening night is always dedicated to our Angel Night program, where every seat is filled by smiling children, happy parents and families. The year-long program offers free tickets to social service organizations and disadvantaged families and individuals. The biggest one however is “The Nutcracker” show, where every seat is free.

To cap-off the angelnight3-dscn3480evening, as everyone exits Symphony Hall, children are given take-away bags filled with pencils, toothbrushes, toys, stickers and free happy meal cards. This performance gives some of these children and families a chance to have a normal holiday season, a pinch of happiness and sometimes a whole lot of hope.

This small but impactful detail would not be possible without the angel-night-4-dscn3492support and hard work of all the CopperPoint employees who, year after year, help stuff Angel Night Goodie Bags. An assembly line is made in a conference room and employees drop in and out throughout the day as we get our groove going with some music in the background and get to know each other as we work. Each year is a bit different, but the one thing that never changes is the positivity and impact that this group of employees does for our Angel Night guests.

THANK YOU!

CopperPoint Insurance Companies is a corporate sponsor of Ballet Arizona.

OSHA OMG: Violations and shaming employers

DeniseBlommelBy Denise M. Blommel
Employment Law Attorney

First, penalties for OSHA violations go way up on August 1, 2016.

Second, OSHA admitted on its website that its motivation is to shame employers.

As the kids say, “OMG!”

OSHA penalties have not risen since 1990.

Here’s the new penalty schedule, which Arizona’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (ADOSH) must adopt:

Willful                                                    No less than $8,908 or more than $124,709.

Repeat                                                   No more than $124,709

Serious and other than serious          No more than $12,471

Failure to correct                                  No more than $12,471 per day

Posting violation                                  No more than $12,471

Not every employer has to keep an OSHA 300 log.  (See the list here to ascertain whether your business is exempt.)  If you are exempt, breathe a little easier.  If not, take a deep breath.

If your business has to keep an OSHA 300 log, you only have a few months to get ready for the 21st century version of the pillory stocks. In its record-keeping final rule, the federal government admits, “Behavioral economics tells us that making injury information publicly available will ‘nudge’ employers to focus on safety.”  Dr. David Michaels, the head of OSHA, said that dirty laundry, heretofore private, will be available to investors, job seekers, customers and the public. According to the government, OSHA logs will be the basis for “big data,” which is a cruel joke given the underfunding of this agency.

The new rules also prohibit retaliation against employees. There is no private right of action for employees so they must rely upon ADOSH and the Industrial Commission of Arizona to prosecute their claims. You still must be careful not to retaliate.

ADOSH will be adopting these new rules. They will be phased in over the next two years by the number of employees and the riskiness of industries.

Here’s what you need to do now:

  • Talk with your worker compensation carrier
  • Transition from paper to electronic media
  • Ascertain what records your business must keep
  • Ascertain what is recordable
  • Review your anti-retaliation policies
  • Do not discourage reporting

Part of being an employer in the Modern World is record-keeping. Your employee handbook probably says, “Safety First.”  Now, it is imperative.