Managing your risk – in the office!
When we think of dangerous work zones, we often think construction sites, roofers or manufacturing – but we see a fair share of workers’ compensation claims coming from office workers. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, back strains, tendonitis, and shoulder/elbow issues were the cause of one-third of employee absenteeism (2011 US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
That is an astounding number of days lost at work! Think of the cost for any company large or small – workers compensation claims, missed production, and, maybe most importantly, employee morale.
What is the solution? Ergonomics.
Ergonomics is a fancy term that really means designing a work environment that best fits the worker – for comfort, safety, and proficiency.
Here are instances where an ergonomic intervention is needed:
Do your employees have any of these factors?
- Repetitive tasks – doing the same thing over and over again. This can include sitting at a desk and typing all day. OUCH!
- Classic back and shoulder strain points: Lifting things above shoulders, squatting, lifting, leaning, twisting and picking up heavy objects
- Holding the same position for a long period of time. Do you have team members that have to stand in one spot for hours? Lower back strains are common here.
- Exerting extreme force to lift, pull, or shove heavy things. Think mail rooms, stock rooms.
Take a look around your office – do an assessment!
OSHA has some great tools to get you started, and to get you thinking. The best tools are your eyes and ears. We strongly suggest having an open dialogue with your team. Are there common complaints? Do you see employees wincing or rubbing their necks at their desks? Are you going through asprin by the cases? Are your workers compensation claims up?
After you’ve identified the issues and have done your homework – it’s time to take action. Have a series of safety workshops for your team. Topics such as:
- Correct posture, monitor height and chair height
- Proper lifting techniques
- Encourage breaks from repetitive tasks – get up and move around
- Teach stretching techniques
- Make sure your team has ample leg room and work space
Give them the right tools
- Make sure your team has the right safety equipment, as well as ergonomically correct chairs, keyboards, and other computer equipment.
- Give them step stools; perhaps create shelving that is at a lower – or higher – height to avoid strain from lifting or squatting.
- Make sure the lighting is correct for their job tasks – avoiding eye strain and headaches
- Temperature control – is it too hot or too cold?
It’s always nice to have a process, but you have to make sure it is being followed. Have regular team meetings to reinforce your ergonomic rules and safety regulations!
Need help? Just ask!
At Founders, our job is to make sure your team is protected and your company remains financially sound. An increase in workers compensation claims can really hurt both! We have a myriad of tools that can help with loss control measures – you just have to ask!
P&C Operations Manager