“Virtual Classroom” Ergonomics

If your kids are like mine, they do their homework sitting on the couch, the bedroom floor, or maybe at the kitchen table – once in a blue moon. If they sit at a desk in their room, it typically isn’t for a long time. That’s a good thing because most of these setups aren’t great ergonomically for long periods of doing work.

It is a completely different ball game now that the schools are switching over to virtual classrooms due to the coronavirus. Students will be going online for extended periods of time to use Google classroom and other web portals to do assignments, watch instructional videos and virtual lectures/tours assigned by their teachers, etc.  This is a different situation than getting comfy and consuming streamed media for entertainment or doing a short bout of a homework.

There are several things that we can do to make sure that we improve their learning environment from an ergonomics standpoint so that we aren’t adding physical stress (musculoskeletal) to the emotional stress of this situation.  These fixes may not be ergonomically perfect, but we need to work with what we have available to us.

  • Don’t have a laptop stand? Find some books to stack underneath your ipad or laptop to get it to a better height.

savannah ipad before and after

(There are a couple of changes between photos.  In the after photo (right), the chair seat has been elevated and the feet are supported on a shoebox.  The ipad is lifted on books to help improve the viewing angle.  Note that the neck, shoulders, and arms are more relaxed in the improved posture.)

savannah laptop small before and after

 

In the after photo (above right), the laptop has been elevated on a stand to improve the vision angle.  A wireless keyboard and mouse with the laptop stand for inputting information.

  • Use a USB or wireless keyboard and mouse.
    • Don’t use the keyboard height adjusters – you want the keyboard to be somewhat flat to maintain a neutral posture at the wrist.
    • Keep the mouse close to the keyboard.  Don’t put it in a place that you need to reach away from your body for it.
  • Learn the keyboard shortcuts for your apps – this reduces the physical demand on your wrist and fingers when using the mouse.
  • If they have an adjustable chair, set it to the right height for the surface that the keyboard is sitting on.
    • If their feet don’t touch the ground, find a box or some books that they can use as a foot rest.
  • If their back isn’t touching the back rest of the chair, use a pillow to help provide some support.

Additional tips

  • Use a timer to remind your kids to look away from the screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Have them refocus on something on the other side of the room to give their eyes a break.
  • At least once an hour, have them get up and move around.
  • Encourage them to drink water while they are doing their work to stay hydrated.

If your child has to use the couch, there are some small things that can be done to improve their posture.  Have them sit with their feet on the floor and a pillow behind their back for improved support (below right) instead of sitting with crossed legs.  Also, move the table close so they don’t have to reach (it could be a little closer in these photos.)

tyler couch before after

If you have any questions about how to set up your student’s “virtual classroom”, drop me an e-mail at quin@njergonomics.com, tweet me @njergonomics, or give us a call at (732) 796-7370.

 

It’s Not Just About Being Clean and Nice Looking

It’s not about being messy or being neat – although one of these looks a lot better when the customers walk up.

storing wood

It’s about putting items at optimal heights for when a customer or an employee has to lift the items. Notice that the firewood on the right is stacked on not one but two pallets. This helps bring the bags of firewood to a more optimal initial lift position than trying to pick the firewood up off of the ground.

The power zone for lifting starts at just above knee height, which is about where the handle is located on the lowermost bundles of firewood in the image on the right.  Without those two pallets as a base, the firewood would be picked up from a less than optimal height (although, with some bending at the knees we can make it a much better and safer lift).

The firewood in the image to the left has two problems.  The first is that the lower levels of firewood are stored on the ground in bags that tend to spread in a horizontal fashion, reducing the overall height of the bag.  The second is that these bags don’t have regular handles on the top which can mean that the handle is actually on the level of the ground.  The use of a spare pallet or two and some reorganizing of the bags so that they stand with the handle portion of the bag in a vertical orientation could make this “retail display” a little easier on the backs of the employees and the customers.

NTSB Recommends Annual Physical Performance Testing of School Bus Drivers

Yellow school bus. Vector illustrationShortly before the holidays, the NTSB offered a blog post that included recommendations for school bus operators as a result of the investigation into a December 2017 school bus accident in Oakland, Iowa.   The tragic accident took the lives of a school bus driver and a 16 year old student when the exhaust pipe of the bus was blocked by the side of a drainage ditch. While all of the bus exits – emergency non-emergency – were operational, the report suggests that the student and driver succumbed to smoke inhalation when the student may have been attempting to help get the bus driver off of the bus.

In November 2017, the driver had visited his doctor due to complaints of pain and stated that “he could walk if he used a cane or crutches, that he experienced pain that prevented his sitting for more than 30 minutes (or standing for more than 10 minutes), and that he was sleeping less than 4 hours a night.” The school bus driver had been scheduled for a lower back surgery that would have occurred just 2 days after the fatal bus accident due to complaints of chronic lower back pain with weakness of his right leg. 

The NTSB final report notes that the school district was aware of his physical disabilities and his scheduled surgery but did not remove him from service. In addition to his physical complaints, numerous complaints about his driving performance were provided to the school district previous to the event but not documented.  However, finding number 9 concludes:

“It is likely that the bus driver’s progressive chronic back disease, which caused severe chronic pain, impaired his ability to evacuate the school bus himself or to assist the passenger to evacuate.”

The report also notes that the school district did not follow the district’s own requirements defining physical abilities of school bus drivers including appropriate fit for duty clearance of a driver that was not able to perform the required safety duties of the position.

Finding number 10 states:

“The use of physical performance tests on both a routine and as-needed basis can help identify physically unfit drivers who have a valid medical certificate but who might not be able to perform required safety duties, especially in an emergency.”

It is important to remember that a valid medical certificate does not necessarily indicate that the holder can perform the essential postural and physical demands of a specific position. The valid medical certificate only indicates that the holder meets the 4 non-discretionary standards (vision, hearing, epilepsy, diabetes mellitus) and 9 discretionary standards (hypertension, cardiovascular disease, respiratory function, loss of limb, limb impairment, neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction, mental disorders, drug use, and alcoholism) as outlined in 49 CFR 391.41.   The valid medical certificate indicates that a physician has determined them to meet the 13 standards but does not include a functional abilities test based on the essential minimum postural and physical demands of a position based on validated measurements of the required tasks.

Finding number 10 provides the basis for the following recommendation, which is directed to 44 states including New Jersey, made in the report:

“Revise your school bus driver requirements so that all drivers must pass a physical performance test on hiring and at least annually, and also whenever a driver’s physical condition changes in a manner that could affect his or her ability to physically perform school bus driver duties, including helping passengers evacuate a bus in an emergency.” (Emphasis mine)

School bus drivers perform a variety of tasks, in addition to driving the bus, that have specific postural and physical requirements, including:

  • Range of motion/strength to enter/exit the bus from the front side entrance, rear exit, or the wheel chair entrance.
  • Check roof top emergency exits (reaching to 72+ inches and applying vertical pushing and pulling forces) as part of the daily pre-drive inspection.
  • Maneuvering and securing (bending, kneeling, reaching) of wheelchairs when driving students who utilize wheelchairs.
  • The ability to bend/kneel to check under seats as well as view underneath bus.
  • The physical ability to provide assistance in seating/securing (seatbelts) for special needs students in the event that a bus aide is not provided for this task.
  • The physical ability to help move a physically incapacitated passenger from the bus in the event that the passenger needs to be moved to safety prior to the arrival of trained first responders.

Many states, including New Jersey, suffer from a shortage of school bus drivers. However, the NTSB report states:

“The NTSB is also aware that many medically certified school bus drivers with safe driving records have physical limitations that could prevent them from passing a PPT. However, the consequences of a driver not being able to evacuate a school bus or assist passengers in an emergency cannot be ignored.” (emphasis mine)

Additional recommendations by the NTSB include:

  • Appropriate fire suppression systems in the engine compartment
  • Usage of 911 emergency buttons as opposed to radioing the transportation supervisor (The driver of the bus contacted the transportation supervisor by phone after the fire started rather than calling 911.  The call to 911 was not immediately placed by the transporation staff but by the student’s mother  after the family was notified.)
  • Making sure that students, teachers, and other district employees are trained in evacuating through all of the exits, including manually operated loading doors, in the event that a bus driver becomes incapacitated.

Gary Vee, ROI, and workplace safety

In a recent podcast, Gary Vaynerchuk talked about Return on Investment (ROI) and the fact that ROI isn’t necessarily driven by what is spent but “is predicated on how good you are at it”.

This is so important in the area of occupational health and safety. Often, companies will purchase equipment with the best of intentions in mind – make the job easier for the employees and reduce the potential risk of injuries. But what happens once the equipment is installed and the trainers leave? This is an issue more often than not, on initiatives large and small.

Several years ago, I was doing an ergonomic walkthrough at a large retail grocery store. Towards the end of the visit, we were standing near the check out lanes. As we were talking, I noticed that one cashier was fairly tall – a little over 6 feet – but the cashier next to him was an older woman who was just a little over 5 feet. A few minutes before, the safety manager had explained that they had purchased adjustable monitors for the cashiers to be able to see the items that had been rung up. As I was looking at these cashiers, I noticed that both had their monitors set to exactly the same height. Despite the best efforts of the employer to provide equipment to make the job easier and safer, the employees weren’t using it. They did not adjust the monitor heights.

While filling out consent forms for a fit for duty functional capacity evaluation, a recent claimant repositioned himself in a chair in the lobby of our office that allowed me to see his feet. I noticed that one foot was in a walking boot. This was an unexpected piece of information. As I asked him about the walking boot, I learned that he had been working modified duty in the boot which was for treatment for a significant medical issue related to his foot. Both the condition and the walking boot required a quick call to the employer who he had not told about the walking boot. This employer provides safety shoes for their employees as it is a safety requirement for the position. Due to the fact that the walking boot was black as were the issued safety shoes, nobody had noticed the walking boot. A quick routine check of PPE when supervisors meet with employees throughout the day/week would have resolved this issue which could have resulted in greater medical issues for the employee.

For any project, whether it is a safety initiative such as safety equipment or equipment modifications or programs such as post-offer pre-employment or return to work testing, it all comes down to how good you are the program that you are putting in place. This requires constantly paying attention to how the program is running. Are supervisors making sure that employees are following safety guidelines? Are you making sure that your post-offer physical ability testing or return to work programs are based on accurate job descriptions? When developing a new safety initiative, make sure that you include follow-up and oversight in your planning to ensure that you get the ROI that you are expecting.

**  For those looking for the specific podcast, it is the December 4, 2019 episode entitled “You’re Not Going To Know Where To Start”

 

What Should We Do Wednesday – 10/9/19

In the past, I have covered different incidents that point out how things could be done differently under the guise of “What Not To Do Wednesday” blog posts.  This morning, I read an article that was written after the safe resolution of a training flight that included a mechanical failure.  In “Elevator Failure at 4,500 Feet”, instructor pilot Rich Wyeroski recounts a flight in which the elevator on the horizontal stabilizer had a malfunction while the plane was in flight.  Wyeroski provides a solid recounting of the steps that he took to safely bring the plane down after the student pilot reported difficulty with the controls.  In the article, he states that his reason for writing the article is a concern that this incident, particular to Cessna 150 airplanes built between 1959 and 1970, could occur again without a hardware modification to upgrade the elevator hardware to the same standard as Cessna 152 planes as well as some Cessna 150 planes that were later.     He also discusses the importance of training to deal with potential emergencies such as this to ensure that pilots:

“Always try and stay calm during an emergency. Don’t do anything until you assess the situation and then react slowly. (The only time I would deviate from the above recommendation is if the aircraft is on fire!)”

Wyeroski, who is not only an experienced pilot, instructor pilot, and instructor for A&P mechanics, gave a great breakdown on how the flight was handled and possible solutions.  But, my reason for bringing up this aviation article was the comments section.  Some of the comments argued that a pre-flight inspection should have caught this and that a request for planes to have the attachment system for the elevators in the older Cessna 150 models is a little too much for something that happens rarely.

The thought process of those who stated that it should have been caught in the pre-flight inspection really stuck with me when I was reading the article.  Several people did note that it would be easy to miss (either by a lack of a thorough pre-flight inspection or by seeming ok during the pre-flight but loosening in flight).  The author noted in a comment that no issues were noted during pre-flight or during a recent annual inspection.

Without Wyeroski’s recount, this near fatal flight would not be a learning experience except for those who dig through NTSB case files.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One of the problems in safety and workers compensation is that all too often, only the incidents that cause injuries are reported/recorded and potentially used to effect some level of change within a worksite.  Sometimes, it is because only the people involved know about the incident because of not being required to report/record or even check in with occupational health.  But these “near misses” are important to take the time and look into more deeply.  Many times, the lessons learned from a “near miss incident”  can provide the information necessary to change either policies/procedures and or change/adjust equipment to prevent future incidents.  Wyeroski even notes in the comments that one lesson that he learned from this incident was to contact Air Traffic Control rather than the local Unicom operator to make sure that the Fire Department was ready and at the runway when he landed (apparently, the Unicom operator was unable to get the fire department to understand the urgency of the request and the risk of a fatal crash).

Photo by Adrian Pingstone, Wikimedia Commons

 

Friday Five – 9/13/19

This is a slightly different Friday Five.  I’m not going to post a check of what is new in the research in the areas of ergonomics and safety.  This week will be a quick recap of what I think were five important takeaways from the conference that I attended yesterday – “Everything You Wanted To Know About New Jersey Workers Compensation” which was hosted by John Geaney from Capehart Scatchard and Millenium Seminars.   If  you aren’t following John’s blog on workers compensation, you should be.

“Recovery on the job” – Trudy Mandia from AtlantiCare

I tweeted about this yesterday.  I hate the term “light duty”.  So many people get wrapped up with the word light with a lot getting it confused with the term “light work” which is considered to be a job with an occasional lift, push, pull, carry demand of 20 pounds.  Everyone tends to get wrapped up on the restrictions on an individual when they hear “light duty”.  Over the years, I have been on a mission to reframe the term as modified duty which is not so wrapped up in the restrictions on demands.  But, I love the term that Trudy talked about from AtlantiCare’s standpoint.  They no longer use the term light duty and have replaced it with “Recovery on the job” with the focus being on an individual’s current abilities and not focusing on what they can not currently do.

“Make sure that it isn’t boxes just being clicked”

Dr. Dwyer from Premier Orthopedics mentioned the reminder that with so many medical records being generated by different EMR packages, sometimes practitioners can end up clicking through.  Make sure that the physicians and therapists are being accurate when they are completing medical records in an EMR system and that they are also indicating both active and passive range of motion of the injured body part at all visits.

“Make sure that your employees know how long light duty will last”

This topic came up across multiple discussions through out the day because it is that important.  This is something that we tell clients that we meet with when we are talking about both regular job descriptions and tasks that might be available for modified duty.  Leaving an employee in a modified duty position for an indeterminate length makes some employees want to remain in that position for the remainder of their employment and also makes it easy to argue that the “modified duty position” is essential if an employee is left in that position for a prolonged duration of time.

“Job Descriptions”

Another topic that was mentioned several times because as John said yesterday, good job descriptions are the building block for creating a workers compensation program.  I’ve written about customized job descriptions multiple times on this blog, but members of yesterday’s panels provided reminders that good, solid, accurate job descriptions allow:

  • The physicians and physical therapists do their jobs to get the injured employee back to the essential demands of the position.
  • Allow physicians, employers, and case managers to possibly get an injured employee on modified duty when it becomes appropriate and helps to allow for progression of modified duty over the treatment timeline
  • Is necessary for having an effective interactive dialogue when the issues of accommodations comes up.
  • Need to accurately reflect current essential postural and physical tasks that are performed.

“Communication”

The issue of communication came up in several panel discussions during the day.  Communication between the employer, the case manager, the physician, the physical therapist, and the employee is key in moving towards a successful end state for an injury claim.

  • I was glad to hear that having a bilingual staff member to help with the communications process with injured workers at the Tropicana has made a big improvement in their program.  I know that in the provision of FCEs, we have been grateful when a translator has been provided if a claimant does not speak English but provision of a translator is not a common occurence.  Having a translator can make things go much easier and quicker when everyone is on the same page.
  • Make sure that you communicate your modified duty program guidelines to your injured employee when it is offered and put it in writing.  This helps to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

This is just a small sampling of some of the important topics that were discussed during the course of the day.  These one day conferences are a great opportunity to learn from the speakers, the attendees as they ask questions/make comments, and during the breaks to learn from the vendors and the attendees.

atlantic-city-beach-patrol-boat-82-quin-bond

(A photo I took during a previous conference in Atlantic City but yesterday’s weather conditions were similar)

 

 

Importance of Job Rotation, Job Title, and Essential Demands (and baseball)

I have had two separate discussions this week involving job titles, job descriptions, and when employees are required to do jobs that are outside of their “specific” job title – but still essential job demands of their overall “job title”.  During both discussions, a key detail to the “specific” job title in question was that the specific job title falls under a much broader category.

I try to avoid sports analogies when meeting with clients because they can sometimes be cliché, especially depending upon the setting.  However, a recent Phillies game went into extra innings and became a great example of the situation that both clients were questioning.   While we refer to most major league baseball players by the position that they play, the overall job title that applies to them is baseball player.  During this extra inning game, the Phillies manager had to make some adjustments in the 13th inning (not really different than unplanned overtime) which included moving an outfielder to pitching and having a pitcher play in left field.  While not uncommon, moves like this don’t happen in every extra inning game.  What made this game memorable is that Vince Velasquez, the pitcher who was placed in left field, made two highlight worthy throws to throw runners out.  Each of these players were moved from their “normal” job to a different job, but still under the same title, and were able to fulfill their role – well maybe not for the outfielder who pitched because the Phillies lost the game.

We have several clients that use a system similar to this, in that when a person applies for a position with the company, they will apply for Job Title “A”.  For these clients, Job Title “A” will have several sub-titles or location areas that the employee may be directed to work within after company specific training.  They may have been hired with experience in other sub-titles or locations but these companies, much like the military, will place these new employees where they have a demand.   One of the companies uses a title of Mechanical for the position.  Those within the Mechanical position may work in carpentry, plumbing, electrical, rigging, welding, etc.  While an employee may be placed in one of these areas dependent upon company needs, they are all trained to be able to perform the tasks of mechanical employees so that when the need arises they can fill that particular need.  On the public sector side of this issue, we have seen similar job descriptions that require staff of public works departments or the buildings and grounds department within a school district have to be able to perform multiple roles as needed.

Cross job utilization can allow for companies to identify modified duty accommodations that an employee may be able to fill, help to spread out overtime over a larger group of employees if an individual employee is injured or ill, and allows some employers to reduce the amount of different job titles that they need to perform post-offer pre-employment tests for – if the job demands to be able to perform across multiple roles can be demonstrated to be an essential demand.

**  Of note for the diehard baseball fans, prior to these highlight reel throws Vince Velasquez was famous for throwing out a runner using his left arm after being struck in the right arm by a 96 mph line drive during the 2018 season.

Friday Five – 8/2/19

The Friday Five is a set of five links that I have come across this week that pertain to ergonomics, occupational health, safety, human performance, or human factors.  For whatever reason, I found them interesting, but they are provided with minimal or no commentary and are not meant to be endorsement for a given product or research paper.

Diane Gyi et al. have created a new anthropometry data set for plus sized workers.  With increasing obesity levels, this new dataset is very important as many of the original data sets  that were utilized were based on measurements of military personnel.  A course from The Back School on ergonomics for plus sized workers was a good reminder for me that this category requires some different ergonomic considerations because there are some different biomechanical needs when setting up or correcting workstations.  It was also a good reminder that this category is not necessarily about obesity – the plus sized worker category includes anyone that is outside of the normative data sets, regardless of the reason why they fall outside of the normative data.  (When I originally took the course, it reminded me of The Incredibles when Bob tries to become a non-super hero, stuffing himself into the small car or into his cubicle at work).

Dominique Larouche et al. look at the issue of safe handling techniques for paramedics when transferring patients from stair chairs to stretchers.  One of the interesting points is that they believe that training needs to be oriented more towards the ability to adapt work techniques based on the environment and on the work teammates.

Joshua Zheng Rui Ting et al. investigated the effect of an ergonomics/exercise intervention compared to an ergonomics/health promotion intervention on workability levels in the office worker population.   For the general population, there was no significant difference in results.  But for a subgroup of office workers who reported neck pain (greater than 3/10 at start of study), the ergonomics and exercise intervention group demonstrated trending improvements in workability when compared to the ergonomics/health promotion group, if they completed at least 70% of the exercise sessions.

Peter Love et al. dealt with the difficulties in establishing operational guidelines for construction safety when the information on injuries is not readily available to use to set best practice guidelines.

Kaitlin Gallagher et al. noted that walking breaks can help to reduce low back pain that is induced by prolonged standing.   Walking and moving is something that I have been an advocate of for a long time.  Walking is not only great to break up prolonged postures (sitting or standing) but the overall movement is helpful for preventing other health issues as well.

 

Friday Five -7/26/19

 

The Friday Five is a set of five links that I have come across this week that pertain to ergonomics, occupational health, safety, human performance, or human factors.  For whatever reason, I found them interesting, but they are provided with minimal or no commentary and are not meant to be endorsement for a given product or research paper.

Jodi Oakman et al. performed a 6 year study looking at issues of workability and musculoskeletal pain in a Finnish food industry company. They looked at the relationship between workability and musculoskeletal pain, physical work conditions, and psychosocial work conditions as well as what interventions made changes to workability levels. (Of note, this study was interesting to me as I have been working with an employer that has performed a musculoskeletal discomfort survey with its employees to help to identify tasks that may be contributing to musculoskeletal discomfort.)

A study by Sherry Hassam et al. looked at a 24 month intervention using the “Walking Works Wonders” program to evaluate changes to office based participants in a standard walking program and a tailored intervention program when compared to a control group.  While both exercise groups demonstrated improvements in measures of well being and resting heart rate, those in the tailored intervention demonstrated additional improvements in BMI measures and waist circumference.

A companion study to the above walking intervention study by Kazi et al. notes that sitting at work for the 1120 participants in the study accounted for nearly 60% of their daily sitting time and that those is sales and customer service positions have higher BMI and poorer health than those in other employment sectors.

Jesse Jacobs et al. looked at employee attitudes towards acceptance of wearable devices in the workplace.  They found that employers who want to implement wearables “should (a) focus its use on improving workplace safety, (b) advance a positive safety climate, (c) ensure sufficient evidence to support employees’ beliefs that the wearable will meet its objective, and (d) involve and inform employees in the process of selecting and implementing wearable technology.”

Xavier Robert-Lachaine et al. looked at the feasibility of using magnetic and inertial measurement units for analyzing performance of manual material handling tasks.  They found that while visualization of the data collected for the head, arms, and legs did not demonstrate significant visual difference from data collected visually by observers, there was a greater difference between visualization of data and observer’s evaluation of trunk movement.  They found that using these units can be acceptable, visual verification of the data is still important to ensure validity as magnetic disturbances can increase measurement error and affect collected data.

Taking A Deeper Dive Into Your Injury Data

Recently, WorkersCompensation.com and Safety+Health Magazine ran two articles that provided interesting injury information that came from taking a deeper dive into reported injury data.

WorkersCompensation.com reported that injury rates in construction workers in Tennessee were higher for those on the job under two years. In both Tennessee and Ohio, injury rates for workers with less than 1 year of experience accounted for 47.5% and 45.6% of the total injuries, respectively. Workers with less than 6 months of experiences accounted for 37.1% and 33.6%, respectively.   The article notes two important thoughts:

  • Fingers and hand injuries were among the top 10 injured body parts – an issue that can be reduced with appropriate PPE
  • Teaming up new, inexperienced workers with mentors to learn to recognize work hazards

Safety+Health took an interesting look at the effects of shift length and inexperience on the risk of injury to those working in the mining industry. They reported on data from a study by researchers at University of Illinois at Chicago that found that miners working shifts longer than 9 hours “were 32% more likely to suffer work-related fatalities and 73% more likely to be part of an incident that caused injuries to multiple miners.” Risk factors for injury for those working more than 9 hours included workers that had less than 2 years experience in the job as well as irregular work schedules. Among the suggestions to reduce the risks were fixed schedules and a recommendation into looking deeper into the effects of longer shifts on “fatigue and nutrition”.

One of the key things that we ask on our FCE intake paperwork is the amount of time that a claimant has been working in their current position. More often than not, many of those who have been sent to us for the functional capacity evaluation have less than 1 year in the position in which they were injured. Length of employment at time of injury is a data point that all employers should be monitoring. When trends appear such as in the two studies noted, employers need to take a look at hiring practices and new hire training practices. They may find that their hiring process should include a post-offer pre-employment test of physical abilities to ensure that new hire candidates meet the essential physical and postural demands of the position.

Looking at injury data (OSHA logs, loss run data, etc.) should be a part of the process of setting up a post-offer pre-employment process in conjunction with performing on-site measurements to create a customized job description of the essential postural and physical demands. The injury data may help to pinpoint job tasks that require a deeper look to determine why employees are getting injured. Is it an ergonomic issue? Is it an issue of strength? Is it an issue of better standard operating procedures?

One of our clients asked for our assistance in reviewing the injury data after initiating a post-offer pre-employment testing process for an ambulance transport service to determine the effectiveness of the program. We looked at data from 3 years prior to initiation of the process as well as 3 years after (we encourage employers to look at this more frequently).   The initial review of the data indicated a minor drop in injuries after initiating the program (an overall drop of 6 injuries after initiating testing).

With only a small reduction in injuries, a deeper dive into the data was required. Several interesting variables were found during this deeper dive:

  • The number of neck, shoulder, and lower back injuries decreased but injuries involving the hands and exposure injuries increased
  • The number of employees decreased by 20% between the two periods
  • The number of transports increased after testing when there were less employees increasing the amount of exposure opportunities to be injured

Taking into account the reduction in the number of employees and the increase in patients transported, there is a 26.8% reduction in injuries.

Taking the deeper dive into the data allows for a greater understanding of the mechanisms that may be driving the injuries that your employees are experiencing. Make the time to look at your OSHA logs to see if there are injury trends, look at the amount of time employed at time of injury to see if there are trends with your new employees, or take a look at your loss runs to see if certain departments have either a greater number of injuries or a greater amount of lost time compared to other departments. All of these become a starting point in reducing future injuries.minied