By Greg Schlossinger ATC, SFA, ITAT
PTSMC’s new Employer Services Coordinator kicks off a new blog series covering trends, topics and tips for health and safety in the workplace.
The first post in this series, “Healthy Workplace,” covers ergonomics and biomechanics – terms that you may have heard of before, but may not know exactly what they mean and how they can help you feel healthier and more comfortable in your day-to-day work.
So what are ergonomics and biomechanics?
Ergonomics is the process of designing or arranging workplaces, products and systems so that they fit the people who use them.
Relating to the design of anything that involves people – workspaces, sports and leisure, health and safety – ergonomics is a branch of science that aims to learn about human abilities and limitations, and then apply this learning to improve people’s interaction with products, systems and environments.
In the case of workplace health and safety, ergonomics aims to improve workspaces and environments to minimize risk of injury or harm. As technologies change, so too does the need to ensure that the tools we access for work, rest and play are designed for our body’s requirements.
Biomechanics, on the other hand, is the science of movement of a living body, including how muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments work together to produce movement.
In order to fully realize the benefits of ergonomics and biomechanics, the two should be considered together, as two parts of a whole. Ultimately, an ergonomically optimized workspace, with consideration for each individual’s unique biomechanics, can mean more comfort and less pain throughout the day.
PTSMC’s new Employer Services program applies ergonomics into the workplace and uses biomechanics to correct behaviors which are causing overuse injuries and years of micro-trauma. These types of improvements have been shown to reduce common work injuries like strains and sprains and other issues.
Did you know that one strain/sprain injury, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) could cost a company upwards of $30,798?
Along with injury reduction, additional health and safety aspects need to be addressed. For instance, a simple 5-minute pre-work stretch can reduce workplace injuries by 4%. You may be thinking, “only 4%? That’s not much.” But when participating in this prevention, you could be preventing a single injury for a savings of $30,798. If it’s my company, I’ll take the 5-minute stretch and save the almost $31,000 any day!
How can PTSMC’s Employer Services Coordinator apply this expertise to my workplace?
As a certified athletic trainer, I will be looking to connect and spend time with all types of companies to evaluate workspaces and present recommendations to optimize them.
This can include:
- Evaluating potential risks with ergonomics and biomechanics in mind
- Reporting back to management the changes that should be considered
- Creating stretching programs and workplace workouts for employees
- Performing job stressor analyses
- Presenting on workplace safety and ergonomics
- Providing on-site first aid to reduce OSHA recordable injuries
- Introducing reasonable nutrition considerations
All of this is done with the aim of creating a healthy workplace environment that limits workplace injuries and their associated costs.
On-sight early injury prevention and management is the cornerstone of preventing workplace injuries. For example, I recently worked with an individual who strained his back taking apart a pallet. Under OSHA first aid guidelines, I used moist hot packs and soft tissue massage as well as biomechanical changes to his work habits, and within three weeks he had no symptoms whatsoever! In this instance, we performed all the first aid in the workplace and set the employee up with a system that was optimized to prevent injury in the future. This proactivity saved the company money, the worker remained at work collecting his normal paycheck and the problem was resolved. Looks like a win, win, win for all!
Give PTSMC a call to schedule an appointment to discuss how this program can help you and your company correct all of the workplace habits.