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In the era of globalization and industrialization, service sector is the one which is growing rapidly in any country. In Industrial Society, role of office is very important as employee spends 70% of their time in office and they sit more than they sleep in their whole life. In a good work place, every piece of furniture is going to play an important part in boosting productivity and potential of an employee. Sure, workers can survive in an uncomfortable chair or in a workstation with limited privacy, but it might not be the best way for them to truly thrive.

According to a survey done by “Furniture At Work”, it has been found that 99.6% people accepted uncomfortable chair, affect their productivity and therefore it is very important that office furniture should be designed keeping ergonomics in mind.

Ergonomic is nothing but designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its movements, and its cognitive abilities to mitigate health risks such as lower back pain, headaches, tension, fatigue and much more. Ergonomic chairs and desks moves with you from sitting to standing and keyboard trays that tilt and swivel which makes you comfortable.

People are facing various issues like repetitive strain injury and musculature disorders in office due to uncomfortable chairs and desks.

Do you have any idea how ergonomics can be helpful in avoiding strain injuries and skeletal disorders. If no, then you seriously need to shop ergonomics furniture once. These Office Furniture are so simple to use that the functionality often invisible to the user.

We must appreciate and show some gratitude to Humanscale products which designed ergonomic positioned chairs to LED Light to create more comfortable place to work. Ergonomic office furniture include chairs with the arms attached to the back, so when the sitter moves, the arms are in a healthy, ergonomic position every time. It can weigh as much as 15 pounds and be made of up to 40 parts, use the laws of physics and the sitter’s own body weight. As a result, the chair automatically reads the weight of the user, allowing for the mechanism to provide perfect recline with the correct tension for every individual.

When we talk about sitting on desktop for long, keyboard system and monitor arms with exceptionally durable and simple to use facility makes ergonomic office furniture’s more advantageous to working men and women. In addition to that Footrests and Foot machines with their capability to reduce swelling and discomfort in the lower legs during prolonged periods of sitting simply add feather in ergonomics.

Reducing eye strain, improving computer-based reading comfort, reducing energy use and costs due to advanced LED technology and providing safe and secure storage solution for every company’s technology investment in terms of CPU holders are some of the other features of ergonomics office furniture’s which helps us to be fit and healthy.

So, one need to agree with the fact that use of ergonomics adds good value to our life style thus improving health conditions and helping to lead a better and healthy life.

What are you waiting for? Shop ergonomic office furniture and help yourself and your employees to be more productive and healthy.

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iPad with on display keyboard

Image via Wikipedia

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.

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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!

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Do you know where your employees are?

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/)

Why?

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
    services.

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.

How?

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 – fpisano@ergonomicedge.com or 401 529 8398

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The ERGOLAB practice is a part of Pisano & Associates LLC, an Environmental Health & Safety consulting firm headquartered in Pawtucket RI.  A growing part of our Health & Safety consulting work is in support of healthcare providers; hospitals, nursing homes and medical practices.  Hospitals in particular, are under pressure to drive costs down (do more with less), while ensuring 100% quality at the point of patient care.  An often overlooked aspect in this equation, is the role EMPLOYEE SAFETY plays in supporting or enabling patient safety. Healthy employees are more productive, better focused and less prone to mistakes or mental errors. A healthy hospital employee CONTRIBUTES directly to a safe patient experience.

Our mission at Pisano & Associates / ERGOLAB, is to work with clients to assess the current state of employee safety, identify and eliminate risk factors through Health, Safety and Ergonomics programs. Following is a case study of some recent work; our Safety and Ergonomics teams partnered in the ‘deep dive’ analysis of historical OSHA recordable data across a large hospital ownership group.  The objective?  Identify the all risks factors and build a plan to build a “best-in-class’ safety culture. This initiative was the first step on that journey.

Challenge:

As the largest industry in 2009, health care provided over 16 million jobs. Combining medical technology and the human touch, the health care industry administers care around the clock, responding to the needs of millions of people—from newborns to the critically ill.

 In 2006 (most current data available), the incidence of occupational injury and illness in hospitals was 8.1 cases per 100 full-time workers, compared with an average of 4.4 for industry overall. Nursing care facilities had a higher rate of 9.8. Health care workers involved in direct patient care are at great risk back strain(s) and other MSDs from lifting patients and equipment; potential to exposures to radiation and caustic chemicals; and to exposures to infectious diseases, such as AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis.  

In order to drive holistic safety improvements for both employee and patient across the entire hospital ecosystem a shift in philosophy will be essential to successfully keep up with the demands of this industry.  The symbiotic relationship between patient safety and employee safety cannot be dismissed. As first noted by E. Scott Geller, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at Virginia Tech, “What impacts one group, impacts the whole”.  Positive changes in hospital safety environments can only come by focusing time, energy and investment on employee programs to compliment already robust patient safety programs.

Our client is large healthcare network operating over 75 Health Care Facilities across the United States and employing over 100,000 associates and their foremost concerns are to maintain a safe environment and reduce both direct and indirect Workers Compensation Costs.  

Solution:

As part their continual improvement efforts Pisano & Associates team was brought in to conduct a 3rd party OSHA Recordable Trends Analysis for (4) hospitals within the client’s network, using the OSHA 300 Log data over a 3 year period.    The P&A team developed a database tool that provided a deep dive assessment of the data and reviewed over 10,000 OSHA recordable looking for key drivers of workplace accidents and injuries.  From there some very basic questions needed to be answered:

  • Which employees’ are at the greatest risk for injury and illness? 
  • Are there common denominators between the high risk group(s)?  Type of Injury? Behavior? Location? Activity?  Job Title?
  • Does the existing Incident Investigation Database System capture the necessary data for an accurate and valuable data analysis? For example, if a patient is also injured during an employee incident does the system make it possible to make a “connection” between employee injury and patient injury?
  • Based on the findings, what existing or new safety and health programs need to be enhanced, or developed and implemented that will drive the greatest reduction in employee injury and result in a safer patient environment?
  • What approach should be taken to efficiently and successfully implement these programs?

 Result:                                                                    

This extensive analysis of 10,000 OSHA Recordable Incidents showed that 80% of the total incidents, restricted/transfer days, and days away from work involved one of the following:

  • Patient Handling
  • Materials Handling
  • Needlesticks/sharps
  • Slips/Trips/Falls

The following programs were recommended:

  • ERGONOMICS: Focus – Patient Handling & Material Handling
  • EXPOSURES: Focus – Needlestick/Sharps
  • SLIPS/TRIPS/FALLS

In addition, RN’s accounted for approximately 30% of the total incidents, the restricted/transfer days, and the total away from work. As a result a Safety & Ergonomics effort both focusing on and involving RN’s was also recommended as part of a total safety culture effort.

Finally the results showed that 40% of all incidents occurred in the Patients room, they accounted for 35% of all restricted/transfer days and 30% of all days away from work.  It was also recommended that they integrate employee and patient incident tracking and reporting in the existing database. This will allow for a much more accurate estimate of potential cost savings and liability cost avoidance when developing and implementing the recommended programs.

As a result of the project our client is doing the following:

  • Moving aggressively towards adopting and embracing the ‘Total Safety Culture’ philosophy.
  • Addressing the limitations of their OSHA reporting system that were identified during the project and investigating how to capture and integrate both employee and patient incidents and how they relate to each other.
  • Targeting an 80% reduction in employee injuries and related workers compensation costs both direct and indirect base based on recommendations
  • The safety and well-being of the nursing staff is at the center of hospital group’s strategy – nurses’ are active in all phases of program development and rollout.
  • Employees and management participate in specific safety task forces to promote both employee and patient safety and to develop programs, policies and procedures. Some of these task forces include: the Needle Stick Prevention Task Force, Safe Patient & Material Handing, Medication Safety, and Emergency Management. Hazard surveillance and environmental rounds are done on a regular basis. This activity provides inspection and review of all work areas. Recommendations for improvements are reviewed by the Environment of Care Committee and evaluated and implemented by management.
  • Working collaboratively with OSHA and other regulatory organizations to ensure a high level of employee safety.

If you’d like to know more about this project – feel free to contact me via email or phone – cdavis@ergonomicedge.com or 401 527 7047

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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 cdavis@ergonomicedge.com

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