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ERGOLAB was thrilled when Marie Claire magazine asked for our point-of-view on the potential health risks of iPad and e-reader usage. For some time we’ve been warning tablet and e-reader users on the pain, discomfort and even injury that can come from long-term device use. We’ve gone on the record in the past…regular iPad use poses real health risks - check out our blog post “This Apple Has a Few Worms” – we agitated some Apple fans in the process.
Frances Pisano, CEO and founder of Pisano & Associations LLC (the parent company of The ERGOLAB at Ergonomic Edge) was published in the most recent version of the Design-Build Institute of America‘s (DBIA) monthly publication, Design Build DATELINE. Design-Build is a membership organization bringing together thousands of organizations and individuals representing architects, engineers, public and private owners, general and specialty contractors, manufacturer and suppliers, students, college and university faculty, legal and finance professionals and many more.
Frances was asked to share her point-of-view on Hospital Ergonomics, the article is titled “Hospital Design; Ergonomics Should Be The Next Big Trend” - check it out!
Posted in Ergonomic, Ergonomics, Healthcare, Hospital Design, Human Factors, MSD, Musculoskeletal, Uncategorized | Tagged Construction and Maintenance, Design-build, Ergonomics and Hospitals, Ergonomics for Nurses, Hospital, Hospital Construction, Hospital Design, Hospital Ergonomics, Hospital Safety, Nurse Safety, Nursing Ergonomics | Leave a Comment »
Ask any business owner or executive about the impacts of Healthcare costs on their business and you will get an EARFUL. Healthcare accounts for 15.4% of payroll costs…and that percentage is increasing. Today’s business enterprise spends significant time and resource energy on the aggressive management of that number. Very little if any savings will come from that number (unless REAL healthcare reform happens; don’t hold your breath for it)…today the exercise is about holding the line. Just keep treading water.
An unexplored SAVINGS opportunity does exist; it’s not as sexy or polarizing as healthcare costs BUT it can drive very real cost savings.
Did you know that the total cost of unplanned employee work absences – not vacation or personal time – represents 9.2% of the average company’s payroll expense? (Source – Marsh Mercer 2008 online survey http://www.kronos.com/AbsenceAnonymous/)
Absences impact your business in three ways:
- Direct costs for the benefits or wages paid to employees while absent,
- Indirect costs for lost productivity or the replacement worker expenses to “cover”
absences and minimize loss of productivity, and
- Administrative expenses, whether due to internal staffing and overhead, or to vendor
The impact on Productivity is even more alarming:
Absenteeism or “Incidental unplanned absences” result in the highest net loss of productivity per day (i.e., missed or postponed work not being covered by others): 21%versus 15% for planned absences and 17% for extended absences.
Absenteeism is a MANAGEABLE cost driver and a sound Ergonomics strategy can help.
Trapped in that 9.2% number are unreported employee pain and discomfort issues. In many cases, ERGONOMIC workplace issues are the cause of this pain and discomfort. A recent study from Spain estimates that > 6.4 million people take an unplanned absence each week citing muscular-skeletal problems as the reason. Out of these, 40.9 per cent of the work force experiencing lower back pain, 40 per cent with neck pain, and 22.9 per cent with upper back pain.
Poor environmental and task design within the work environment drives this pain and discomfort. ERGONOMICS can help.
Do you have an in-house program that documents absenteeism drivers? Probably not. Our ERGOLAB team works with business leadership to build a proactive approach to absenteeism through;
- Employee pain and discomfort surveying,
- Task assessment and redesign consulting and
- Ergonomics education and training
Interested ? We’d love to hear from you – firstname.lastname@example.org or 401 529 8398
Posted in Ergonomic, Ergonomics, MSD, Musculoskeletal, OSHA, Safety, Uncategorized, Wellness, Workplace injuries | Tagged Absenteeism, Business, Ergonomics, Ergonomics can reduce absenteeism, Health, Health care reform, Indirect costs | Leave a Comment »
As a kid, I always loved “Back to School” preparations; shopping for new clothes, selecting the MEAD organizer that best reflected my view of the world (Charlie’s Angels Farrah era not Drew, or maybe the Pittsburgh Steelers) and of course, buying that new book bag (yes, we had book bags when I was a kid) to carry around my new stuff. Times were simpler (cue the nostalgic music) and little if any thought was given to Ergonomics, Repetitive Strain Injuries and the like. Naive? Uninformed? Perhaps.
Times have changed. Computers. Wireless. MP3s. Gaming. The list of technologies goes on and on. You would think this shift to ‘virtual’ content results in kids carrying less to and from school. Not the case.
Add up all the items you find in a backpack today, and you’ll easily find 25 to 40 lbs of weight. The Congress of Chiropractic State Associations, or COCSA, recommends that you carry no more than 10 to 15% of your body weight in your backpack. With kids, ERGOLAB recommends the 10% factor as your target. Consider this, the average American sixth grader weighs in at approx 80 lbs (+/- 10%) – that means that a sixth grader should have NO MORE than 8 to 12 pounds. Studies have shown our kids are lugging backpacks around that weigh well beyond this threshold. This increases the likelihood of pain, discomfort and even injury in shoulders, backs, and necks.
Given this reality, several client have asked us to recommend a back pack for their kids; with so many products on the market and EVERYONE claiming Ergonomic supremacy..it’s hard to know what to purchase. Our ERGOLAB team recommends the AirPack® backpack by AirPack Systems. http://www.airpacks.com/
At its core, AIRPACK is about proper weight distribution; typical body posture when carrying a heavy backpack involves slouching forward. You instinctively attempt to counterbalance the weight on your neck and upper back. The patented AIRPACKS system of air-filled bladders in the shoulder straps and lumbar support shift the load to the right place – your lower back and hips. An AirPack backpack improves the overall biomechanics of the spine, reducing the stress on the body by 80% and lightening the effective load by 50%. So the wearer actually FEELS BETTER.
Parents, the right backpack alone will not address this issue.
Some additional tips:
- Take time to ensure the backpack is properly fitted to your child. They’ll need some instruction. Check back often.
- Monitor what your kids are carrying; the weight of school essentials already pushes the threshold. Make sure the only carry what is absolutely needed that day.
- Get involved at your school. If your child is lugging around too much weight AFTER you have weeded out the non-essential items – talk to school officials. The PTO is also a great place to surface this issue.
- Get your kids MOVING! Exercise increases muscle strength and tone; active kids build a stronger core and are less susceptible to injury.
Any additional thoughts? If you have any suggestions or a solution that has worked for your child – please share.
As always, we are available via phone or email – 401-527-7047 or email@example.com
Posted in Ergonomics for kids, Uncategorized | Tagged Back to School, Backpacks, Best Backpack, Ergonomic, Ergonomic backpack, Ergonomics and kids, ideal Backpack weight, Kids, Kids and backpacks, School and Health, School Ergonomics | Leave a Comment »
There is an old carpenter’s axiom, ‘measure twice, cut once’. The lesson? Careful, informed planning is essential to ensure a positive outcome. Hurry to complete a project, and you do so at your peril. A lot of wasted wood cut just a skosh too short.
Ideally, Ergonomics should play a central role in the design and build out of any building where people will work. Understanding the needs and limitations of the human body at rest and in movement should inform the work of architects, designers and builders. Have you ever worked in a business environment where the building structure, layout, space allocation for job tasks, movement & pass-through, while up to all current day building codes, seems to interfere or impede productivity? The workspace allocated per employee in office environments is often driven by cost issues (cost per sq foot), rather than building an understanding of the tasks employees would be asked to perform….THEN DESIGN TO MEET THOSE NEEDS. Or, perhaps the business, like most, have gone through significant expansion in their use of technology. New tools are forced into existing environments; this reality introduces risk factors into the workplace. Or, the employer needs to support as many workstations in an area as possible, with little or no regard for human factors and ergonomic realities. (think CALL CENTER – have you ever walked through a large call center – YIKES – an MSD factory).
A growing part of our ERGOLAB practice is consulting within a hospital environment. Nursing injuries are on the rise. OSHA accident and injury data has identified nursing as one of the most dangerous professions in the US. Why? THE PERFECT STORM OF FACTORS;
- HEAVY LIFTING – On average, a nurse lifts 1.6 TONS of human body weight every shift. Injuries from heavy lifting leave 50% or more working in chronic pain
or at least 12% leaving the profession, many with permanent disabling injuries. The rate of Musculoskeletal Disorders or MSDs in healthcare workers exceeds that of workers in construction, mining and manufacturing.
- FATIGUE – Nurses walk 1/3 of every shift due to poorly designed floor layouts and inadequate storage at the point of care. A nurse walks more than 6 miles per shift.
- TECHNOLOGY – New technologies have transformed healthcare; unfortunately, many of the nation’s hospitals were built before the invention of computers. Tools and technology is crammed into every nook and cranny on patient care floors. Nurses spend HOURS at computer workstations that are poorly designed, forcing out of neutral body postures and increasing the risk of MSDs.
- EMPLOYEE SAFETY NOT A PRIORITY – Present day hospital culture is about PATIENT SAFETY concerns and conversations; employee safety is a distant second. The typical hospital will have a Patient Safety Officer, with enterprise level responsibilities and resources. That same hospital will relegate Employee Safety responsibilities to any number of ‘owners’ at the middle management level.
- MORE WITH LESS – Financial challenges resulted in nursing layoffs – nurses are asked to do more…..much more….with less. 40 % of nurses today work in excess of 12 hours
per shift. Longer hours, more shifts, less down time.
Intelligent hospital design, leveraging human factor and ergonomics expertise would alleviate MANY of the factors listed above. Lifting tools and technologies exist that could eliminate injuries due to heavy lifting. Floor plan design must evolve to eliminate unnecessary walking that contributes to fatigue, then injury. Technology can be better integrated at the point of care, with ergonomic solutions to minimize MSD risk. Any design must have adaptable, changeable and flexible enough to meet accommodate changes in technology.
The good news….a VERY real opportunity exists in the coming decade to address hospital design issues and create the care center of the future. The healthcare industry is experiencing a construction boom:
- Hospital construction spending is forecasted at $36.8 billion by 2011 with expected annual increases year to year (source – Center for Medicare & Medicaid Service)
- 58% of existing hospitals plan to add beds in the next few years to accommodate aging baby boomer populations (source – Nurse Executive Center – CNO Survey)
Ergonomics must be one of the guiding principles in future hospital design. Let’s not ‘assume’ that Ergonomics is central to the design methodology….DEMAND IT. Make sure the development teams have MEASURED TWICE…before they finalize design. The costs of business as usual are too high.
Have something to say on this topic? Please add your comments.
If you’d like to discuss our consulting services in this area, please contact Frances Pisano at 401-529-8398 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted in Ergonomic, Ergonomics, Human Factors, MSD, Musculoskeletal, OSHA, Safety, Uncategorized, Workplace injuries | Tagged Ergonomic, Ergonomic Consultant, Ergonomic Consulting, Ergonomics and Hospitals, Ergonomics for Nurses, Health, Hospital Design, MSD, Musculoskeletal Disorders, Nursing Safety, Worker Safety | Leave a Comment »