Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

 

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.

Ergonomic Assessment Forms

The 7 Deadly Sins of Ergonomic Assessment


If you’re using a standardized ergonomic assessment form (or a set) to gauge the progress or success of your ergonomic initiative, you may not be realizing the total benefits available to you and your employees. You may also not be capturing or addressing the full scope of the issues before you.

This is especially true if you are tasked with achieving X results in a timeframe of Y. Your forms-based approach may or may not deliver results that will produce the metrics that the executive team wants to see. So, what to do?

Here are some of the limitations of forms-based assessments and how you can go beyond those limitations to create a whole new world of change.

1. The floor and ceiling effect. The REBA assessment form, for example, has a limited range within which to measure capacity and incapacity. I do not wish to step on toes, but, how can a previous injury impacting mobility be addressed within this form? Your movement floor and ceiling and my movement floor and ceiling are likely completely different. How can the individual’s unique range of motion be captured? And if the use of the REBA form, or similar forms, is mandated in order to fit into a larger hierarchy of performance, how can you track what’s really going on with a particular employee? Here’s a suggestion: add a detailed addendum to the form that identifies the individual’s particular physicality and its abilities and limitations and create a set of metrics around that. Bringing these metrics to the attention of the executive team and how tracking them has benefited both employees and the company may allow the introduction of a whole new set of metrics to be tracked across divisions/work groups.

2. Only addressing the design of the station. Welding will always be welding, but you can suggest and allow changes that will help address worker fatigue and stiffness. For example, you can build in stretch or rest breaks. Even just 45 to 60 seconds can reset the most used muscle groups.
3. Ignoring future effects. Each change you make will deliver short term, midrange, and long term effects. Are you tracking the effects of your ergonomic changes over time? Some of the changes you put in place may deliver excellent short term results, but might those changes produce poor results in the longer haul? For example, changing a reach at a workstation can create immediate relief for an employee as he or she begins to exercise a different set of muscles. But will the new reach movement deliver a different set of problems over time, or the same muscle fatigue problem you started out with? Thinking through the longer term effects of your ergonomic changes may reveal that additional considerations have to be made.

4. Not training or monitoring your ergo team effectively. If you don’t have an ergo team in place, then that’s step #1. If you do, the way you train that team and measure their results will have an enormous impact on outcomes. Proper training and continued training through developing a critical eye, will allow your team to implement corrections that produce positive results versus negative ones. For example, encouraging workers to stretch throughout the work is great. The caveat to this is whether or not the employee truly understands the hows and whys of stretching. This form of education must be nurtured layer by layer. Don’t assume proper movement patterns in stretching or exercising in anyone.

5. Not defining the role of the ergo team deeply enough. Does the ergo team view themselves as compliance police or teachers? Do they think their job is to enforce or to encourage? Studies clearly show that leaders who show up as teachers and encouragers will develop deeper relationships with their employees and produce better results than those who only try to achieve metrics. When a leader, or change agents, takes the approach of empowering and valuing employees, employees will show up engaged and eager to participate, even becoming teachers and encouragers themselves. The more distributed the selfcare message is—that is, the more often it comes from peers versus the leadership team—the more powerful it will be. Don’t feel like you have the right people in place to provide that training in a powerful way? We have trained many teams in this approach, and they’ve been extraordinarily successful in creating positive results for their employers and employees alike.

6. Not considering yourself a change agent. Many leaders fear that implementing a program focused on helping workers mitigate fatigue, body stiffness, or discomfort will soon have all workers complaining about having pain, and then what? Surely, they’ll demand more pay? Or, worse yet, we could experience higher worker’s compensation claims. We’ve found that concern to be baseless. In fact, our experience is that these programs help employees feel cared for and valued. Emotions expressed as “valued”, “cared for”, “appreciated” are powerful non-monetary benefits all companies can aspire to create in the company culture. This can spur employees to step up and participate in leadership roles, training fellow employees and providing helpful tips when they see the opportunity. Therefore, companies observe decreased worker compensation claims, increased productivity, increased quality, decreased number of days away from work.

7. Using the wrong words to communicate with employees on how they physically feel. Let’s take the word “discomfort”, a popular term in early intervention programs, and a term that OSHA approves, rather than the word “pain.” “Pain” equals an injury in OSHA terminology. Unfortunately, we find that employees often consider “pain” and “discomfort” as synonyms. The goal of Early Symptom Intervention programs is to get to the employee before pain. There are red flags that employees express either consciously or unconsciously well before a description of “discomfort” or “pain” is verbalized. It is here where you can begin to assist employees to make corrections to help and then monitor those corrections. This is an area in which ergo teams can fall short; not because they don’t care, but because the knowledge base is not there. And chances are this technical level of knowledge and application won’t be learned in ergo teams comprised of most current company employees: EHS, assembly team leads, production supervisors, HR personnel. The information necessary is in an entirely different career knowledge base. Hiring outside companies that have this experience to assist in molding, teaching, and mentoring internal ergo teams is highly valued by companies that are now traveling down this path, due to the significant results achieved by doing so.

Avoid these seven deadly sins in ergonomic risk assessment, and you’ll find yourself curing ills you may never have known you had.