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.

OSHA unveils updated hot weather app

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A phone app from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns workers and others who will be outside as summer heats up of risks of heat-related illness, and provides preventive steps.

A phone app from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration warns workers and others who will be outside as summer heats up of risks of heat-related illness, and provides preventive steps.

By NIHAL KRISHAN
Cronkite News
WASHINGTON – Occupational Safety and Health Administration officials had a message Wednesday for workers and others who expect to be outside working and playing as summer heats up: Shade, water and rest for safety.

And if that’s too much to remember, OSHA has an app for that. And it’s free.

The federal agency actually has had the OSHA Heat app since 2011, but recently it unveiled an updated version of the phone app that provides users with a heat index reading for a particular location and gives precautions to help prevent heat-related illnesses. Continue reading

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