The staff at Humantech wishes you a safe and happy holiday weekend. Enjoy all the flavors of Independence weekend!
By Greg Cresswell, CPE
Last week at a client site, I was observing operators loading steel I-beams onto a rail car and they were using an overhead track-style fall prevention system. It was the Tether Track by Gorbel. Basically, workers wear a harness that anchors onto the overhead rail, and if there is a sudden drop in elevation (due to a slip or fall) the Tether Track quickly locks, much like a seatbelt in a car when the brakes are suddenly applied. Not only does it improve safety from elevated work surfaces, but allows workers to keep both hands free while using it – minimizing awkward postures. Check out this article about it that was featured in EHS Today.
By James Mallon, CPE
Just flipping through the Detroit News today, I came upon a great article on the use of digital modeling in advanced ergonomics at Ford. The best excerpt from the article is towards the end where it reads, “…when digital modeling was introduced about a decade ago, ergonomic injuries fell about 80 percent. Potential problems on the assembly line can be identified two or three years before an operator is exposed to it, Stephens said.”
Allison Stephens, the Global Technical leader in Assembly Ergonomics, has been getting a lot of well deserved press for her work recently. She delivered an enthusiastic keynote speech at the National Ergonomics Conference in Las Vegas last November and was honored with the Creativeness in Ergonomics Award for Practitioner of the Year at the the Applied Ergonomics Conference this past March.
Read the entire article.
Whether you are planning to start an ergonomics team in the near future or your current ergonomics team needs to refocus its efforts, OSHA’s video, Ergonomics Programs That Work, is worth the review. This 21-minute video shares examples from large, mid-size, and small companies, as well as tips from two OSHA compliance officers on evaluating ergonomic programs. Although the video is a bit dated, the underlying themes and principals proposed are timeless.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has reopened the public record on a proposed rule to revise the Occupational Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting Requirements regulation. Notice of the reopening was published May 17 in the Federal Register.
The purpose of reopening the record is to allow interested individuals to comment on the small business teleconferences that OSHA and the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy co-sponsored on April 11 and 12, and on the issues raised during the teleconferences. OSHA held the teleconferences to gather information from representatives of small businesses about their experiences recording work-related musculoskeletal disorders and how they believe they would be impacted by OSHA’s proposed rule. The public is invited to submit comments by June 16, 2011. For more information, read OSHA’s news release.
In an office environment, glare on a computer monitor can result in static, awkward neck postures. Straining to look at a monitor can put pressure on the brachial plexus or neurovascular bundle in the neck and shoulder area. There may be reduced circulation in the affected body area, resulting in less oxygen and nutrients to the muscles. Symptoms to be aware of include:
- Neck pain
- Shoulder numbness
The primary sources of glare include overhead lights, outside windows, and light reflected off work surfaces. Depending on the source and location of the light, there are three solutions to consider:
- Adjust the computer monitor tilt and position or relocate the monitor in relation to the light source. Position the monitor at right angles to an outside light source.
- Reduce lighting levels or install parabolic louver covers on overhead lights.
- Attach a glare shield to the computer monitor to minimize glare from all light sources.
By Josh Kerst, CPE
This year’s Applied Ergonomics Conference has featured regulatory updates from both OSHA’s perspective as well as thoughts from general industry. It is expected that there will not be federal action taken in the near term to require WMSD 300 Log recordkeeping nor ergonomic rule promulgation. At a state level, Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder, is expected to sign legislation prohibiting any rule making for ergonomics as well. This action comes on the heels of a recent cost-benefit analysis report required by the Michigan state rule making process (obtained through the Freedom of Information Act) that identifies an expected 37 to 1 return-on-investment for Michigan employers over the next 10 years if the rule was in place. Federal OSHA may not be pursuing an ergonomics standard at this time, but the administration is moving ahead with the proposed Injury and Illness Prevention Program requirement (dubbed I2P2). More to come on this shortly…
Check out a recent literature review by Rick Goggins (WISHA), Estimating the Effectiveness of Ergonomic Interventions. This article is quite interesting and it got us thinking about the effectiveness of some of the programs we’ve had the pleasure to be involved with. There are definitely some key points to take away from the article and, as you read through them, think about your current ergonomics process and how effective it has been.
Most of the findings support what we at Humantech believe, and it’s nice to see other CPEs coming to the same conclusion:
- DLI (2000) – Average 50% reduction in WMSDs, 64% reduction in related costs, and average payback period < 1 year.
- Tompa et al (2007) – Offices, healthcare, transportation, manufacturing/warehousing all have solid (moderate to strong) evidence of cost effectiveness.
- Martimo (2008) – No evidence for back injury prevention from training/equipment (back belts). So put those back belts away!
- Many of the reports focused on the impact that ergonomics had on productivity as opposed to reduction in injuries or costs associated with those injuries. That is a direction that I really like to see companies go in because it’s much more effective from a management stand point.
- Payback period for comprehensive programs was half the time of an individual countermeasure (2.5 months versus 5 months).
This might be an opportunity to share some of your company’s success and how you report. Do you usually use WMSD records or cost reduction as your measure of success? Have you ever presented ergonomics from a productivity standpoint? Are you addressing ergonomics company or site wide or is it sporadic and reactive?
Mercer/ORC-Networks published a summary of OSHA plans and activities on their website. I found two of the actions/priorities will provide additional support to companies’ ergonomics processes.
First, the addition of recording MSDs on the OSHA 300 log. The final rule is slated for February. This has been a hotly debated change over the past year. Some people argue that it is additional administrative work, others support collecting the information to better understand their exposures at work. In Humantech’s recent benchmarking study we learned that companies with successful ergonomic programs, attribute 11-64% of their recordable injuries and illnesses to poor ergonomic conditions. In talking with companies struggling to improve workplace ergonomics, they attribute more (55-70%) to poor ergonomics.
Breaking out strain, sprain, and MSD injuries in the injury/illness log helps organizations better define their need to reduce the causes through improved ergonomics. Companies who can accurately define their need are more successful getting the resources and management commitment for their ergonomics programs. Leveraging the OSHA 300 log is one source of this company-specific information.
One of the planned priorities on OSHA’s agenda is Injury and Illness Prevention Program (I2P2) that could also support an effective ergonomics process. I2P2 establishes a standard model for companies to develop and manage their safety management system. This will enable safety mangers to speak a common language and follow a process improvement to describe their system for managing safety. We know that this process -based approach is a key element of successful ergonomics processes.
The benchmarking study, How to Achieve a World-Class Ergonomics Process: Benchmarking Results from Industry Leaders, is summarized on Humantech’s archived webinars page.
We are here at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas for the 2010 National Ergo Expo. Attendance looks to be very strong this year, and the quality of the talks has been outstanding. Some of the more advanced topics addressed include “Green Ergonomics” and the integration with the LEED Certification, as well as some detailed program management case studies from companies like Cummins, Southwest Airlines and Kaiser Permanente.
Yesterday, I attended a talk by Dana Root entitled “OSHA and Ergonomics: An Update”. Dana is a Regional Ergonomics Coordinator for OSHA. A few things I learned:
- It is unlikely that there will be a federal ergonomics standard anytime soon. Ergonomics will continue to fall under the General Duty Clause. This was attributed to the “political football game” that ergonomics represents.
- The much-discussed MSD column on the OSHA 300 log has no defined timeline for roll-out. For now, it is “on hold”.
- There have only been 24 citations given under the General Duty Clause for ergonomics violations since 2003. Of those, all but 8 are from Extended Care or Nursing Homes, and 3 are beverage handling and delivery. However, almost 5000 Ergonomic Hazard Alert Letters have been sent and followed-up on.
- As most people suspected, a recent investigation by the Government Accoutability Office revealed that safety incentive programs do more harm than good when it comes to accuracy of injury data
Anyway, off to talk about “Ergonomics and Design Guidelines” in this morning’s session. If you are here, please drop by and say hello!