Category Archives: OSHA

Surface Electromyography: the AI to transform optimal movement and worker injury prevention!

Surface electromyography, Semg, has been in existence for a number of years. It is recently now gained attention and respect of many professional sports teams, college teams and others that wish to hone in on why they are moving they way they do.  Abnormal movement can be created by a host of issues that most often are not occurring at the location where your pain or weakness is experienced.  Using Semg can determine muscle firing patterns and aberrant firing patterns that you are not aware of.  Here is an example of someone that works in packing for export, and moves 75 lbs of 4’ x 8’ pieces of plywood several times a day.  NIOSH would probably look down on that, however, this is the reality of many industries that export via trucks, and shipping containers.  This is a fact of life, yet, if one can move better, than less risk of soft tissue break down and injury will occur.  AND, the worker’s physical abilities will remain strong as they age.

By simply using a different and effective techniques, this worker will not have to use as many of his muscle firing capability, thereby, his fatigue rate will lessen dramatically in addition to the aforementioned reduction of several risk factors that are common in physical industries.

And the wonderful aspect of using Semg is that there is no limit on what can be found that the human eye, camera, ergo assessments will never pick up. 

WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CHANGES?


Below we determined the percentage of decreased muscle activity from simply changing how the worker moves the awkward plywood.  The percentages are outstandingly wonderful for the worker.

Every sensor demonstrated a dramatic improvement via less muscle activation to perform the same job, just a different way.

Call us at 803-275-7675 to have us help you create a safer work environment!

https://www.physicalperformancesolutions.com

An Answer to: “SAFE DISTANCING”: how it is not realistic for millions of individuals in their profession

COVID19

What we are learning from the COVID19 is just how quickly it spreads and has the capability to interact with certain medications people maybe taking. The consequences for some are life threatening and death.   Safe distancing was an easy method to begin a downward curve of this menacing virus, yet it is not a realistic long term solution.  And, most people do agree that it will take a multitude of methods to truly combat and totally mitigate this virus.

 

Safe distancing cannot be avoided

Many careers and job tasks will continue to require close human contact: Dentistry, allied health, personal fitness trainers, chiropractors, nursing, parents interacting with their children, and the list is endless, I only name a few.  This is true in many industries.  Close proximity of workers is how the assembly was designed; and, it will take engineering thought, design and additional factors to correct, if that be that organizations top priority list.

 

Immediate viable options – now

Americans, especially, are not accustomed to wearing protective face masks or gloves when out and about shopping, or at work when PPE does not suggest so.   These types of protection are truly new to Americans.  Lets look more closely at what protective face gear can do:

  • It limits the amount of invisible droplets of any contaminant that is in the air from entering your nose or mouth. This is not just for COVID19.  It can be a simple cold virus.

 

  • Many individuals wear protective face gear during high pollen seasons, during times in areas where dust clouds are in the area or increased smog density.   Others with suppressed immune systems may opt to wear them because IT DOES limit the percentage of contaminants into them.

 

  • Wearing protective face gear can also limit your expulsion of any contaminants you may be harboring and not aware of. Be honest, how many of us go to work, shop, or attend social gatherings when we have a cold, or “know” we are “coming down” with something?  We have all heard that phrase before.  Only now, we could potentially be spreading serious illness to others, that otherwise appear to be healthy.  And, lets face it, there are those times a sneeze just happens.

 

  • Wearing protective face gear is also a physical reminder when you cough, sneeze or for us that have a tendency to rub your face. You will feel the mask and be reminded to not touch your face or use your elbow to sneeze or cough into.  The protective face gear will also limit how many contaminants are now on your sleeve that you will now be wearing for the remainder of the day.  And in heavy populated areas with public transportation, how many people may accidentally  rub against that area?

Wearing Protective Gloves

Most of us wear protective gloves at one time or another when performing certain tasks.   Cleaning caustic cleaners at home, or wearing gloves to protect our hands from cold harsh weather.  There are catchers mitts, half finger gloves for weight lifting.  The point is we wear gloves a lot!    Although, no one has given it much thought in recent years to actually wear protective gloves when shopping.   Yes, we tell our children, “Don’t touch that!”, when in a store.  “You don’t know who has handled it before”, etc.   And what about handling all of the food products:  we hold them, read labels, handle fresh produce to see if that is the pepper we want to buy, yet handle it with bare hands.   Ok, we wash the fresh produce once we get home, but whatever we touched is on our hands. So how many things did we touch before we got home?  And, how many of us really use hand sanitizer after EVERY time we touch something?  We don’t.  At least the majority of us do not.

Now, handling items is becoming more important, as we do not know who touched, or sneezed or coughed in that area.  Wearing protective, disposable gloves is a good viable option.

  • Even if you continue to use hand sanitizer, your hands will not be so dried out and scaly. Protective gloves protects your skin with your natural protective oils.
  • When touching something you think is contaminated with what ever, it is easy to remove the gloves safely, thus your skin is clean from the contaminant.

 

While social distancing will eventually become a natural instinct in the coming years, we can still enjoy physical closeness that humans desire.  It is in our DNA.  We can also become more cognizant and employ items we use already and incorporate them in more of our daily living.

So, don't be afraid to wear those dressy gloves when having a glass of wine!

Getting Beyond Low Hanging Fruit

How Accountable is Your Organization?

Employee health and safety professionals understand the importance of safety in the workplace.  They know that safety comes in all shapes and sizes.  Yet, when bad decisions are made by management regarding safe procedures such as lock out tag out, what are some of the possible outcomes? Well, this:

OSHA case study: How some companies still flout safety to gain economic advantage

In this OSHA case study, luckily there were no severe injuries.  But what was just as detrimental was the non-verbal but loud and clear message to the employees: “We don’t really care about you.  It’s about how fast the product can be produced!”

Robotics assist in many ways.  One way is to reduce possible awkward positions and sustained awkward positions of employees. When dangerous short cuts are imposed like the one outlined in the OSHA case study— allowing employees to climb into the robotics cage with the robot still moving—what else is an employee to think?

Couple the OSHA case study with this one, posted in the same timeframe in EHS Today:

SLC 2018: Engaging the Workforce Is a Key to Health & Safety Excellence

In this article, Dr. Fulwiher makes excellent points and suggestions.  Our take home, since this is what our organization tends to witness, is this statement of Dr. Fulwiher’s:

This requires a transformation in the leadership of the organization, be it a for- profit or nonprofit, understanding the need to become more transformational and less transactional.” 

This is very true, as most top executives and middle managers are truly only focused on the output in the long run.

People DO NOT CARE how much you know
until they know HOW MUCH YOU CARE

So many articles continue to revolve around this mantra.  And it is true, isn’t it?  So, what can supervisors, employees, and middle managers do to demonstrate this at work and also outside of work?

  • Take an extra 45 seconds to dialogue with any colleague, co-worker, and more importantly, someone you do not know well.
  • When conversing, look them in the eye and notice the color of their eyes. Most of us don’t look at those we’re talking with in the eye.
  • You can smile when talking.  Even if the conversation is a critical point, smiling shows that you do care, and also places the other more at ease.

We should not need classes on this. However it appears that  we do, since there are books, audio tapes, seminars and lectures that all focus on how to become more attentive, genuine, and accountable.

Accountability Starts at Every Level—
in Your Organization and in Your Community

We hear, read, and experience for ourselves the disappointment and frustration when someone is not accountable for something they said or something they said they would do.  We know what it feels like, and we would love the unaccountable people in our lives to become accountable.  Unfortunately, it’s beyond our power to change someone else.

Therefore, the only way to experience change is to change ourselves.  This is what life is about: change.  How can we become our highest selves,  and how can we truly begin to treat others the way we would like to be treated?  Here’s a way to begin in your professional life:

When at work, be accountable.  What does this really mean?  Your “yes” is “yes” and your “no” is “no.”

In a meeting, if you are asked to participate in a project, or asked to assist someone with something small in their project, don’t say, “I’ll see what I can do.”  Either say “yes, I will,” and give them the date by which you’ll provide the information, or say “I can’t,” and provide a reason why.  This is where your accountability starts.  Becoming more direct, detailed and authentic will yield better outcomes in all of your interactions, whether with your supervisor, peers or employees.

As a role model of accountability, you can then begin to challenge your co-workers and colleagues in this area, as well as coach those you supervise to adopt this revolutionary mindset and value.

 

Osha's injury reporting summary form 300A

Responding to OSHA’s New Form Filing Proposal

Saving time and money while continuing to protect employees and maintain their privacy?

OSHA's form 300AToday, OSHA proposed a new ruling for employers with <250 employees that will:

    1. Protect worker privacy
    2. Save money
    3. Decrease burden employers for multiple filings
    4. Decrease burden on OSHA

Here is a small sampling of the introduction:

DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Occupational Safety and Health Administration

29 CFR Part 1904
[Docket No. OSHA–2013–0023] RIN 1218–AD17

Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses
OSHA’s regulation at 29 CFR part 1904 requires employers to collect a variety of information on occupational injuries and illnesses. Much of this information may be sensitive for workers, including descriptions of their injuries and the body parts affected.
Under OSHA’s regulation, employers with more than 10 employees in most industries must keep those records at their establishments. Employers covered by these rules must record each recordable employee injury and illness on an OSHA Form 300, the ‘‘Log of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses,’’ or equivalent. Covered employers must also prepare a supplementary OSHA Form 301, the ‘‘Injury and Illness Incident Report’’ or equivalent, to provide additional details about each case recorded on the OSHA Form 300. OSHA requires employers to provide these records to others under certain circumstances, but imposes limits on the disclosure of personally identifying information.1 Finally, at the end of each year, these employers are required to prepare a summary report of all injuries and illnesses on the OSHA Form 300A, the ‘‘Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses,’’ and post the form in a visible location in the workplace.

One of the questions brought up is: will doing away with submitting of the 300 and 301 forms increase the temptation for some employers to “hide” an injury. Can they? Let’s think about this.
The OSHA 300, 301, and 300A forms must all be filled out for any work related injury or illness. This proposal does not do away with not filling out the 300 and 301 forms, since they are the basis for submitting the 300 A form. Most medium sized companies, >100 employees, will use electronic forms for filling out OSHA forms. So, again, will not having to submit all of the forms that became mandated in January 2017 truly have a negative impact?
I interviewed a few nurses that we have contracts with to assist with their wellness and first aid. All nurses related the same message: the 300 and 301 forms still need to be filled out. The times OSHA made an onsite visit, they didn't want to look at the 301 forms, stating that it was a privacy issue, and asked the forms to be filed away.
In addition, the interviewees stated that for the soft tissue injuries, OSHA makes visits mostly due to the complaints they receive from employees.
I am not considered an expert on OSHA injury filings at all; however, I feel that companies with less than honest intentions are already “hiding” or limiting an employee injury. This proposal certainly will not increase the temptation for companies to be less than honest regarding their employees’ health and wellbeing.

Static standing has debilitating impact on the body.

Humans Are Built to Move: Effects of Static Standing OR Sitting

In the past few years, many of us have heard or read about the new “Silent Killer”: prolonged sitting. The deleterious effects of sitting are reducing quality of life by dramatically decreasing physical abilities and increasing onsets of various disease processes.

The effects of static standing

The effects of static standing or sitting can be quite deleterious.

In manufacturing, however, the opposite may be taking place: prolonged static standing.
This is a common posture in assembling, the food industry, and other labor jobs. Many assembling plants are looking to minimize footstep movement and reduce the number of times product is handled to decrease risk of physical injury from too many lifts, as well as increasing efficiency of work tasks.
The goals of decreasing worker injury while increasing efficiency, productivity, and ease of tasks are excellent in and of themselves. However, the flip side to this can be that there are now jobs that have the worker in prolonged standing postures instead.
Prolonged standing also has its negative effects on the human body and is well documented (Tu¨chsen, 2005) (Omar2, 2011). Static standing causes pooling of the blood in the lower extremities and increases muscle fatigue due to the prolonged co-contraction of muscles for erect standing. Both of these create discomfort or pain in the feet, legs, lower back, neck, shoulders and hips (Isa HALIM1, 2012). Research is also showing that prolonged standing doesn’t just mean standing still for long periods; the combination of standing and walking without ample opportunities to sit is included in the detrimental effects of static standing.
If a worker is standing the majority of the time with little movement, there are some low cost ideas to resolve some of the concerns associated with static standing (Improved Ergonomics for Standing Work -- Occupational Health & Safety, 2003):
1.) Develop an effective job rotation and maintain it.
a. When designing the rotation, the movements of the job tasks must be carefully reviewed to ensure that the jobs don’t require similar movements. For instance, one job station may require more fine motor skills of the fingers with the neck and head posture flexed. The next job station may not have the flexed neck and head posture as the task requires raised arms, yet will still require a fair amount of fine motor skills of the fingers. These two job stations may not want to be considered in a back to back rotation. The amount of time spent using fine motor skills and the amount of force required to accomplish those tasks will be key components in deciding how close together those two work stations will fit in a job rotation.
b. Consider the time a worker will spend in a work station. Many companies are trying to limit workers in a job station to one hour. This is especially for tasks where awkward postures or highly repetitive movements are involved. And, although this limited time rotation may appear to decrease the overall productivity in the assembly line, metrics needs to measured: quality of product, worker soft tissue complaints, days off from work and worker morale, are just four metrics to measure before and after.
c. Get input from employees that have actually worked the various jobs and tasks. Workers offer valuable information and insight into the nuances of tasks that can be overlooked or viewed as insignificant to those who do not perform those tasks.
2.) Delegate as much autonomy and ownership to the worker and work station as possible. For example, provide sit-to-stand stools that will allow workers to choose when to change postural positions. Adding a foot rest is also an excellent option. These ideas are not new, nor are they expensive, but are sometimes forgotten solutions.
3.) When standing or walking on concrete for entire shifts, proper shoes, insoles or floor mats are highly important. Standing/walking on hard surfaces increases muscle fatigue, which in turn can cause changes in gait and how the foot strikes the ground. Over time, various discomforts, from foot pain, ankle pain, knee, hip or back pain can result. Therefore, spending the money and effort on good shoes with proper insoles can help to offset some of these types of complaints and potential problems.
4.) Offering onsite first aid massage that is specific for restoration of tissue gliding. Most people are unaware of relatively new evidence that our tissues glide and slide over and around one another rather than stretch like rubber bands. Techniques such as first aid massage assist to restore better movement patterns and synchronicity of muscle groups.

Bibliography
Improved Ergonomics for Standing Work -- Occupational Health & Safety. (2003, April 1). Retrieved from Occupational Health and Safety: https://ohsonline.com/Articles/2003/04/Improved-Ergonomics-for-Standing-Work.aspx?p=1[11/10/2015 12:48:36 PM]
Isa HALIM1, A. R. (2012). Assessment of Muscle Fatigue Associated with Prolonged Standing in the Workplace. Safety and Health at Work, 31-42.
Omar2, I. H. (2011). A REVIEW ON HEALTH EFFECTS ASSOCIATED WITH PROLONGED STANDING IN THE INDUSTRIAL WORKPLACES . International Journal of Recent Research of Applied Sciences, 14-20.
Tu¨chsen, H. B. (2005). Prolonged Standing at Work and Hospitalization due to Varicose Veins: a 12 year prospective study of the Danish population. Occupational Environmental Medicine, 847-850.