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Ergonomics Training Programs Reduce Worker Compensation Claims And Costs
Medical costs related to a Workplace Musculo Skeletal Disorders (WMSD) can be significant: $40,000 is the average cost for back surgery, $29,000 is the average for carpal tunnel surgery.
But that's just a portion of the cost of the injury. For every dollar a company spends on WMSD, they'll spend three to five times that on indirect costs such as productivity loss, rehiring, retraining and overtime.
An effective ergonomics training program will give you:
- high return on investment
- healthier, injury-free employees
- lower workers' comp claims and costs
- lower turnover
- reduced overtime
- less need to hire new workers to replace those who have been injured
Implementing a custom designed ergonomics training program can have a significant financial impact.
Here are some results from F.I.T. clients:
- a reduction in accidents in their distribution center by over 75%
- workers' comp claims cut by over 50%
- reduced days lost due to job-related injuries from 222 to 49 during a comparable period
The aging of the workforce makes it more important to help workers stay healthy. As boomers get older on the job, become more de-conditioned (and do the same jobs over and over again), it's critical that we teach them good ergonomics practices before it's too late.
Whatever age they are, today's tight labor market makes it more important than ever to keep experienced workers healthy and on the job.
Teaching Employees How to Use Their Bodies Correctly Reduces Workers' Comp Claims
Daily living activities such as reaching and lifting, bending, sitting, pushing/pulling, keyboarding, using tools, operating machinery are often performed incorrectly.
We've never been taught how to use our bodies properly. Most people simply don't know how to work correctly. As a result, our bodies experience "innocent stresses" caused by improper lifting and sitting techniques. These innocent stresses add up over time and wear the body down. They cause fatigue, discomfort, pain and - to the unlucky - injury."
Changing the physical environment is not sufficient to reduce work-related injuries. Nor can companies mandate the use of proper lifting, sitting and standing techniques.
"Employees have to realize that they are responsible for their own health. In order to affect workers' comp costs, you must change the behavior of the individual." —Dennis Downing [CEO, F.I.T.]
This can be achieved through ergonomics training that teaches people - often for the first time - how to use their own bodies in biomechanically correct ways.
During the research and development phase of our programs a thorough review of the existing injury prevention training protocols found the theoretical information was accurate. But it was discovered that employees did not apply this new information while working thus, there was nothing gained from the training. There was zero effect.
It was discovered that a key component to effectively learn a physical activity was missing. That component is the practical or physical "drilling" phase necessary to truly learn a physical activity. So F.I.T. designed a practical module that enables employees to apply the knowledge they gain through training in their specific work environment.
Because an ergonomics training program is seeking biomechanical behavior change, frontline supervisors must validate and reinforce employees who correctly apply the new techniques they learn through training. This means that the supervisor must know what the proper biomechanical movements are, how to acknowledge them, and how to coach employees who are using improper techniques.
The bottom line: Whether or not the OSHA ergonomics proposal becomes law, teaching employees the right way to sit, stand, lift, push and pull, and teaching supervisors how to coach them can pay off by reducing worker compensation claims and costs, lowering the number of lost work days and increasing productivity on the job.