Category Archives: Employee Engagement

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.

 

Employee Morning Stretch Program

Why Your Morning Stretch Programs May Be Waning

Employee Morning Stretch Program
Many organizations have some type of morning stretch program prior to the work day.  They are often led by employees volunteering to lead the program.   We consistently observe at various companies that many employees do not participate in the program.  When asked why, the reasons are varied and some examples are:

  • “Stretching isn’t for me.”
  • “I don’t like it.”
  • “I do this at home.”

Such generalized statements led us to think:  Why?  We gathered some of these employees and asked them if they would help us in finding answers.  What we determined is that many employees do not participate because:

  • They know their range of motion is very limited and they're embarrassed;
  • They're overweight and consequently cannot perform the stretches, and again are embarrassed, or
  • They think that stretching will re-aggravate prior surgeries or injuries.

Morning stretch programs should be designed specifically for these individuals, but are not.  Allowing the morning stretch program to falter and die is a disservice to the employee.

Organizational managers and top executives can't be focused on output and EBITDA alone.  Remember, it's the assembling employee that IS your means to achieve your output.   If the employees are not educated and motivated to increase their physical abilities, the output will be continued accidents, inconsistent quality, longer output times and employee injuries.

If your stretching program is going through a similar decline, rather than scrapping the program welcome wellness companies in to revamp, teach, educate and motivate and continue to evolve the program.  Stretching—proper, individualized stretching—requires professional education and in-person guidance.

Targeting the audience of employees that are very reluctant and may need this the most in order to prevent soft tissue injuries at work or outside of work takes a gentle touch, the right stretches, and a cheerleader’s loving enthusiasm to get them to stay the course.

The benefits of treating musculoskeletal discomfort before it becomes injury.

The Benefits of Reducing Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) Through Better Movements, Postures and Tools

The Benefits of Treating musculoskeletal discomfort before it becomes injury.
Let’s be realistic: many organizations’ production/manufacturing processes and equipment will not be changing to “fit” the worker any time soon. And even if they were, workers will still become injured. Why? Soft tissue adhesions will continue to happen due to work station alignments that can’t be customized to individual workers. MSDs will result in individuals due to historical injuries that are difficult to record, track or know about. “Proactive” ergonomic changes such as reducing steps or reducing how many times someone handles materials can inadvertently cause other worker injury risks. For example, changing the work requirement from walking to static standing can be absolutely debilitating.

What’s left out of so many employee health and safety or ergonomic programs is a a focus on the individual. A blanket ergonomic program can correct many problems, but ultimately one size fits one. A proactive program to analyze and correct poor movements for individuals as well as overall has many benefits.

Such as:

  • Focusing on and correcting poor movements ultimately reduces costs. By proactively preventing and reducing MSDs, companies save approximately $1 out of every $3 in workers’ compensation costs. By continuing to focus on and correcting poor movements everywhere in the company and reducing the MSDs, indirect costs also go down, which can be up to 20 times the cost of one reported injury. If an average cost of an MSD episode without surgery costs $12,000.00, indirect costs will be dramatically higher!
  • Correct human movements boost productivity. Posture and movement solutions improve productivity by reducing muscle fatigue, especially towards the latter half of the work day. Optimal movement patterns need less muscle exertion, resulting in better efficiency of movement and a better quality product produced.
  • To emphasize, correct human movements improve product quality. Non-efficient movements lead to fatigued workers. This creates two issues: 1), increased risk for an injury due to lack of concentration, and 2), decreased quality of product made. The latter now delves into indirect costs rising.
  • Proactive programs to resolve movement-related discomforts create better employee/employer relations. Employees do notice when their employer takes action to foster their health and safety. And they certainly know when they feel better! And feeling better directly as a result of an employer-sponsored, employee-centric program builds a sense of satisfaction, loyalty and commitment of the company as a whole to build better products and to stay happily engaged in the process. Less employee turnover means less dollars spent on the hiring process and re-training. Less job-related fatigue and discomfort means less time away from work, less shifts that have to be covered, less disruption overall.
  • Early symptom intervention programs cultivate better safety practices. Safety is obviously a core value these days. As proactive care programs permeate a company’s culture, they increase all employees’ education on health and safety, demonstrate the value the company places on its employees, and improve employee self-esteem. It’s not the product or your customers that is your most important asset. It’s your employees. And caring for them in this way has an exceptional ROI.
Serving the textile industry

Press Release: Physical Performance Solutions Now Servicing the Textile Industry

Serving the textile industryFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 8, 2018

Contact:  Lori Peacock, Physical Performance Solutions, LLC
lpeacock@physicalperformancesolutions.com
803-716-9167

Physical Performance Solutions Now Servicing the Textile Industry

Aiken, SC – Physical Performance Solutions, LLC announced today that it has added textiles to its growing list of industries served. The company offers Early Symptom Intervention programs to resolve employee discomfort before more serious injury, pain or cost accrues for employees and the companies for which they work.

“Although the textile industry is unique in what it does, employee discomfort can be found in just about any industry,” said Lori Peacock, president of Physical Performance Solutions. “Our proven, comprehensive process will bring relief to textile employees and employers alike.”

Physical Performance Solutions provides onsite services that analyze, diagnose and treat employee health issues before they escalate. Analysis may consist of interviews with employees, observation of workstation layouts and uses, job rotation review, and hands-on examination of muscle movement.

“Our mission is to pursue and utilize the best means available in technology, manual therapies, and movement re-training to empower our clients,” Ms. Peacock added. “We will always provide superior and customized attention to all of our clients so that they in turn may achieve their own missions.”

Industries currently served by the company include food processing, aerospace, automotive, and electrical component manufacturing.

ABOUT PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE SOLUTIONS
Physical Performance Solutions, LLC, based in Aiken, South Carolina, is a leader in evidence-based biomechanics, offering cutting edge, cost effective and proactive strategies for reducing worker discomfort and injury in manufacturing and corporate environments. Our “one solution fits one” approach ensures the highest quality care for individual employees while dramatically reducing risk and safety issues for their employers. Learn more at www.PhysicalPerformanceSolutions.com.

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Control-Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve

Inconsistent with the Application of Your Processes?

CONSISTENT APPLICATION OF YOUR COMPANY PROCESSES WILL LOWER RISK OF WORKER INJURY

We use the word “consistent” a lot. It’s an adjective that can describe attributes in humans, animals, machinery, work tasks, decisions, and so on.
In general, businesses strive to be more consistent: with tasks, communication, routines, and the use of company processes. Sometimes, however, we don’t realize how the inconsistent use of those processes is actually increasing the risk for a worker injury, soft tissue injury, or work accident. Any of these outcomes obviously hamper productivity and increase costs in multiple areas. That’s not at all what we hoped to achieve with our processes!
Here’s an example: you’re in a hurry, pressured to complete a job. You’ve made a decision to change out a drill on a workstation. Harmless, you think. The workers know how to use all types of drills. So, to speed things along, you opt not to consult with the ergonomics team so they can ascertain how the new drill will impact that work station ergonomically, even though you know you’re supposed to. The whole process will take too long, and this drill is necessary at this work station immediately. One week after making that decision, a worker sustains a low back injury from using that new drill. The awkward posture and torque value with the body in such an awkward position created a lumbar strain, causing the worker to lose days from work.
The financial costs? Take a look at this table and run a quick mental calculation:

The costs of Inconsistently applied processes

Expensive! No?
In any facet of life, consistent action yields consistent results.
In business, the performance of a process allows us to know if the process itself is working or not. Consistency in performing or following processes or standards allows for the measurement of the efficacy of those processes. Are they working as planned? If they’re not, the steps are ordered enough to locate mistakes and correct them. Without order and follow up observation of the performance of the ordered steps, chaos and speculation result, without a solid determination and direction toward improving outcomes.
Another important aspect of disciplining ourselves to be consistent in a work process is that it develops a type of responsibility. “Accountability,” the new buzz word, is really taking the responsibility to do those things that seem mundane. Sometimes these are such small things that we fall into the pit of thinking they couldn’t possibly matter in the long run. When too many individuals have convinced themselves to take that approach (unbeknownst to each other), multiple problems arise in the very process that was designed to assist us in identifying problems and solving them.
Anything worthwhile takes time and self-discipline. Many processes can appear to take too long, or to hamper productivity or work flow. However, Lean programs and Six Sigma show time after time that when the process is followed, results are more reliable, and answers can come faster. From the overall vision and mission of a company down to the simple tasks in a production line, all come together. Happy end users, happy employees. It’s a win-win proposition. So, the next time you’re tempted to skip a step in a process, think again. It has a bigger impact than you know.

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.