Category Archives: Workplace Injury Prevention Programs

3D printer manufacturing

Innovation Is Not Just for the New and Most Up-to-Date Products for Consumers

Your employees deserve innovation, too.

3D printer manufacturingA recent article in the Harvard Business Review focused on the importance of U.S. firms bringing home their innovation centers—which they’ve shifted overseas right along with manufacturing (Sridhar Kota, et al., 2018). The article additionally points out that the U.S. “has also lost the ability to do the kinds of process improvements that are essential for innovation.” Our expertise and experience tell us that there’s a particular deficit when it comes to factoring in the humans, particularly those on the production line and the assembly floor.

Sports medicine technology and injury prevention innovations and their benefits are not being captured by industry.  Innovations made in data science, virtual technologies, and data collection and manipulation can now reveal, in real time, just how individuals move, thereby creating the platforms for movement retraining and other methods to restore optimal movements in any individual employee.  The impact of poor movement and the benefits of optimal movement aren’t a line item on any profit and loss statement, but they are certainly being felt there.  You’ll never see human movement in a strategy document, either, but you should, and here’s why.

As technology innovations advance, companies can begin to see exponential growth.  However, if these new types of technologies are imbalanced within a company, collisions will begin to occur—in output, life cycles, and elsewhere.  Although these innovations work on paper, they don’t always integrate and succeed on the assembly floor.

An example here would be that engineering innovators are using technologies such as virtual simulators, like 3D printing and other types of technologies.  While on the assembly floor, employees are still required to contort their bodies in order to assemble the product.  Some of the processes can now take longer due to the intricacies of advancements in product design and manufacturing.

In addition, these enhanced assembly processes now require increased skills from employees.  Current employees require more training, and new employees require new and different training.  This eats up valuable resources and does show up on the profit and loss statement as employees must be educated, trained, and mentored much longer.

Manufacturers have no choice but to invest in innovative approaches in the manufacturing assembling process.  Robotic assembly is not the only innovative restructuring process out there, and in fact is ancient in today’s marketplace. Powerfully integrating employees into today’s advanced manufacturing processes is the Holy Grail.

This type of methodology and use of technology can be referred to as “translational research”: not only investing in the R&D, but turning that R&D into physical reality, and that includes technology-enabled proactive and positive integration of the human part of the equation.  It’s this type of innovative use of human-focused technology in process design that can decrease employee injury, increase the consistency of quality of product, and increase the efficiency of production time.

Most large organizations have not yet come to the realization that seeking out cutting edge responses to human limitations on the assembly floor is a critical component of strategy and process design in today’s quickly changing production environment.  SMBs are looking for big business models to follow.  In both cases, the ROI of focusing on such solutions is rapid and a conservative >800% in the first few months.*

For some years to come, human beings will be on the assembly floor, much of the work there requiring more awkward positions and/or tedious fine motor skills of the upper extremities.  Biology of the human body is not getting a facelift in the near future.  Therefore, using the innovations happening in human movement analysis, correction and optimization will help to integrate and capitalize on the human aspect of assembling the new innovations created by engineering designers.

*Case studies available on request.

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.
Job Rotation Food Processing

5 Mistakes You’re Making in Job Rotation

Job Rotation Food ProcessingAn employee comes to you and says that’s he’s hurting. In this case, it’s his shoulders.  So, you look down the line for a workstation requiring a different activity, and you plan a regular job rotation with the person running that station on his same shift.  With gratitude, the employee goes back to work.

Four days later, the employee calls in sick.  His shoulders hurt too badly to work, he says.  He says his doctor wants him off the job for two weeks. Two weeks go by, and ultimately he doesn’t ever come back.  You’re surprised by this.  You did what you thought would solve the problem.  What happened?

This is a regular occurrence in manufacturing job rotation, and there are five common mistakes made in designing a job rotation program that, if avoided, will actually set you on the path to establishing an assertive injury prevention program.

Mistake #1: Not including movement training.  Nothing would get done without humans moving.  But are they moving the right way?  Work has two parts: the tasks to be done and a method for doing them.  Each task can be performed in such a way to minimize the risk of causing personal discomfort and injury.  Do you know the best way to physically approach each task that a worker will perform each day, over and over? It’s not relying solely on the use of correct angles, which is common in ergonomics.  That’s just a start. Using technology such as sEMG, it is possible to see how an individual’s approach to the work is causing him or her discomfort, and how to modify the approach to reduce or completely eliminate that discomfort.  More importantly, sEMG shows aberrant muscle firing patterns and different types of muscle fatigue.  Individuals most often can’t perceive this in themselves; therefore, identifying the patterns prior to an injury and prior to a complaint can dramatically decrease risk for musculoskeletal injuries.  Health professionals highly skilled in  movement retraining  can then train individuals on optimal movement patterns for them that will avoid musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and injury.

Mistake #2: Not designing a specific stretching/dynamic movement program for each workstation.  A generic stretching program is a good start, but if different movements are required at different workstations, specific stretches geared to those movements will provide the most benefit.  For example, a welder may just need to stand up straight and perform forearm stretches between units to relieve upper body stress or have a high stool to sit on for a minute to relieve low back pain, or both.  Workers need to be taught these specific stretches and countering movements along with the task at hand when they are rotated into a new position.  Employees leading the stretch programs should have additional education on the general whys, hows, a developing critical eye, and an attitude of engaging employees that half-heartedly participate or do not participate.  This type of engagement will assist the program to become better.

Mistake #3: Not breaking tasks down into their minimal components and addressing each.  The task may be a grip and cut in food processing, for example, but there’s also a repetitive reach to get the next piece of work.  Are all of these movements considered when planning job rotation?  Analyzing time exposure, static positions, the number of repetitions, and stress angles on joints required by the work at each station are just some of the factors that should be considered in a quality job rotation program.

Mistake #4: Not proactively responding to complaints.  If the lines of communication are open and broad between workers and management, the first hints of discomfort will be revealed.  This is an opportunity to proactively address them.  First aid massage, Kinesio Taping, and movement retraining, review and correction are just some of the tools that can be used to diminish the risk and return the worker to a better physical ability.

Mistake #5:  Rotating employees to workstations with similar versus completely diverse movements.  Do both stations require using the upper extremities in similar ways?  Constant gripping or twisting or reaching and lifting, for example?  How is the back being used at each workstation? Is repetitive twisting involved?  Reaching down and pulling?  If you can switch an employee to a station where none of the same movements are required you’ll get the best results.  Even the order in which the rotation happens can have an impact.

Job rotation in a production environment is an art, but it can produce amazing results if done in concert with a highly trained production movement specialist.  If you’d like a free and confidential consult on an area of concern in your own company, please give us a call at 803-716-9167.

 

Reducing Workers’ Comp Claims: A Radio Interview

Mike Switzer of the SC Business Review interviews Lori Peacock, CEO of Physical Performance Solutions, on the often overlooked and unique contributors to employee discomfort—including physical fitness—and how to optimize management of and provide relief for those factors.

PRESS RELEASE: Tyler Wahlert Joins Physical Performance Solutions Team

Aiken, SC – Physical Performance Solutions, LLC was pleased to announce today that Tyler Wahlert has joined the company in the capacity of both therapist and technology expert.

With a B.S. in software engineering, a license in massage therapy, and a full body certification in Active Release Techniques, Mr. Walhert is well-equipped to help employees of the company’s corporate clients to resolve musculoskeletal disorders and return to better health via a variety of means.

“I discovered Physical Performance Solutions after traditional medicine failed to provide long term relief to the soft tissue injuries I sustained while in the military,” said Mr. Wahlert.  “During my search for healing, and spending thousands of dollars on various forms of treatment, I learned that many doctors and therapists only treat the symptoms and don’t take the time or have the training to find the cause. Physical Performance Solutions addressed the cause of my pain and brought me relief.  That experience inspired me to help others find the same relief.”

“Tyler is an excellent, empathetic and intuitive therapist, having suffered through issues similar to those of our patients,” said Lori Peacock, president of Physical Performance Solutions.  “In addition, his technical expertise will allow us to offer our clients a wider array of technology tools to complement our hands-on and in-person services.”

Mr. Wahlert will apply his technology background to develop a library of in-depth training videos offered exclusively to Physical Performance Solutions clients.

“Our mission has always been to pursue and utilize the best means available in technology, manual therapies, and movement re-training to empower our clients,” Ms. Peacock said.  “Tyler will be a great asset in helping us continue to achieve that mission.”

 

About Physical Performance Solutions

Physical Performance Solutions, LLC, based in Aiken, South Carolina, is a leader in evidenced-based biomechanics, offering cutting edge, cost effective and proactive strategies for reducing worker discomfort and injury in manufacturing and corporate environments. The company’s “one solution fits one” approach ensures the highest quality care for individual employees while dramatically reducing risk and safety issues for their employers.  Industries currently served by the company include textiles, food processing, aerospace, automotive, and electrical component manufacturing.  Learn more at www.PhysicalPerformanceSolutions.com.

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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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Professional Early Symptom Intervention

Early Symptom Intervention (ESI) & Its Benefits

What is Early Symptom Intervention, or ESI, and how can both employers and employees benefit by focusing on it?

Waiting too long to address an employee discomfort issue is no doubt a contributing reason to why organizations find themselves trying to cover missed shifts, dealing with FMLA forms, watching their employees suffer, and blowing budgets.

Whether it’s the employee’s delay or our own, the outcome is the same: pain that finally insists on being dealt with, often at great expense to all involved. Continue reading

As Corporate Counsel, the Best Way to Lower Workers’ Comp Costs

There’s a fantastic podcast out there called Workers Comp Matters, hosted by attorneys Alan and Judson Pierce as part of the Legal Talk Network.  The podcast covers legal issues surrounding worker’s compensation claims, shares recent rulings, and discusses broad areas of the applicable law, including contracts, constitutional issues, changes brought on by the current administration, and more.  I highly recommend it.

Staying abreast of all the legal ins and outs of worker’s compensation claims is mandatory in today’s business environment.  Of course the best strategy of all is to forestall claims before they’re filed. As corporate counsel, part of your job is to advise your executive team on ways to avoid these sorts of legal entanglements.  What should be posted?  What should leadership say and not say to employees?  What are the company’s record keeping requirements, which are designed to protect both the employer and the employee? Are they being followed?  Should a work injury occur, what are the exact steps managers should take?

As you know, some of these measures are designed to prevent workplace injuries before they happen, which is the best form of protection.  Inadequate training, supervision, or communication can all result in poor outcomes, and those areas are the employer’s responsibility to design well, oversee and correct.

What can an employer do to mitigate employee discomfort before it turns into a worker’s compensation claim?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, a significant percentage of workers in private industry had multiple days out of work due to soreness and pain.  What if employers could use this statistic to catch worker’s comp cases before they were actually filed?

By providing on-site discomfort mitigation services to employees, employers can help employees manage their discomfort or even eliminate it completely, keep them safer and focused on their jobs, and reduce not just the costs associated with worker’s compensation claims, but all the other costs associated with poor employee health.

Take, for example, the case of Monmouth Medical Center in Lakewood, NJ, where a change in internal employee healthcare—something you’d think a hospital would be especially good at—resulted in a significant reduction in cases, days out of work, and all of the associated costs.  In fact, costs were reduced by a factor of almost ten.

What was the change?  A “gatekeeper” team of an occupational physician and a worker’s comp specialist was put in place to track every injury that took place and run it to ground.  With intense focus on detail and data tracking and analysis, Monmouth was able to make giant strides in its battle to care for employees in a meaningful way and reduce the costs of injury to both the hospital and its employees.

Could your organization benefit from a more fully featured employee care program? Physical Performance Solutions can provide a free, on-site analysis to explore the possibilities.

Correct Movement Patterns Reduce Soft Tissue Injuries

Movement pattern changes occurs in all of us.  Whether you exercise or not, are an elite athlete or couch potato, it does not matter, all patterns of movements change.  The reasons vary greatly with every individual.

This applies at work, whether a desk job or a more physical job as in assembling, material handling or construction.  Those of us involved in medical safety often witness this:  a worker comes to the nurse's office and says, "all I did was the same lift I have done for as long as I have been on that job.  I don't know what happened.  I just know my back hurts now and I can't lean forward without back pain." A soft tissue injury has occurred, that can cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars with even one incident.

The key to reducing this type of injury begins by watching movement patterns before a worker reports an injury.

By correcting a dysfunctional movement pattern, the worker can now perform his or her specific tasks with a decreased risk of injury.

Correcting movement patterns is a skill well known and practiced in the physical therapy realm and sports arenas. Physical therapists as well as other qualified health professionals analyze movements and movement strategies; something that they are skilled at doing.  Combining this salient skill with  treating soft tissue adhesions, whether post trauma, postsurgical or problems of insidious onset, yields extremely positive results in reducing soft tissue injury - preferably before the injury!

And reducing soft tissue injuries goes right to your company's bottom line.