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Posts Tagged ‘Cumulative Trauma Disorders’


I can remember when I started out in the professional world, my father gave me some advice, in his words, “In business there are 3 things you NEVER discuss”  (for fear of offending or alienating with anyone with a differing point-of-view);

1. Religion

2. Sex

3. Politics

Well….after our blog post 2 days ago on ERGOLAB’s concerns with the ergonomic issues of the Apple iPad, I am nominating another topic that is not open to discussion or questioning. 

    4.     Apple (and anything having to do Apple, it’s products, leadership etc)

The response from Apple nation was impressive and loud. Apple has a fantastic reputation for excellence in product design; creating products that anticipate consumer needs intuitively. Apple users are passionate and proud of their community.  

Some reader comments;

– Apple might be leaving the heavy lifting to the after-market.  Similar to the iPod series, the iPhone, and the iTouch, Apple is relying on the secondary market to address the ergonomic issues around the product; outside ideas and design will fill the gaps.  If this is their thinking, we are a little disappointed Apple did not address the issues within the core design.  This device does not come cheap; after investing $499 for the iPad unit; ergonomic accessories could add another $100 or more to that price tag.  Our concern is that many consumers will do without the enhancements; due to budget or ignorance of the ergonomic risks.

– Under pressure to deliver a tablet device to the market (Apple’s original target date was October 2009), Apple chose to release an interim model. An enhanced version will be offered at a later date. If this is the case, delay your purchase and wait for increased functionality and sound ergonomics. Particularly if you plan on using the iPad as a small format ‘writing’ or ‘creating’  tool.

-Loving the iPhone and slamming the iPad is hypocritical.  Yes, the iPhone poses some ergonomic issues, texting being #1 on the list.  Human Factors research proves that the mechanics of texting, regardless of device, are damaging.  I would counter your comments with this; the iPhone was never positioned or marketed as a replacement for the laptop.  The Apple iPad is being marketed in this way; a SLIPPERY SLOPE in our eyes. People will use this device for writing, with or without the iPad Dock accessory, that usage is high risk. 

– A very agitated Apple worshipper demanded that I return my iPhone, my laptop and go back to those big ugly, clunky desktops of yesteryear.  I hit a nerve with him. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             The Apple iPad has ergonomic flaws. 

Take a look at the Apple provided promotional photo to the left, our ERGOLAB team identified several risk factors FROM APPLE’S OWN MARKETING MATERIALS!

Photo 1 – The left hand holding this device is in EXTREME STATIC ulnar deviation, which is a well-known risk factor for the wrist.  Check out the extended index finger; this product will lead to overuse of the index finger due to repetitive and prolonged scrolling. Don’t get us started on the risks to the ‘one-finger’ typists who will use iPad for emailing, document creation and more.

Photo 2 – Both wrists are in EXTREME STATIC wrist extension. This position is often the culprit, in causing carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and other wrist Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI).

These identified risks scratch the surface ergonomically.  The Apple iPad is not well-designed to support computing – writing emails or creating documents.  Typing on the iPad, while it is laying on a flat surface, creates static neck flexion which causes discomfort, pain and possibly REAL INJURY. 

If you buy this product – do not type for long stretches. Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) can and will occur.  If you choose to adapt your iPad; adding the docking system and keyboard, static neck flexion is reduced, BUT STILL PRESENT.  Injury is possible even with investment in the iPad Dock with keyboard.

The bottom line; using this device ‘as-is’ poses real risk of injury. It’s our responsibility at ERGOLAB to surface these issues, it’s our job, it’s what we do.  Just don’t shoot the messenger.

What’s your point-of-view on the Apple iPad?  We’d love to hear from you.

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It’s the year 2020 and you’re in the hospital for a minor elective procedure that requires an overnight stay. Lying in your bed, you try to call for a nurse. You send your Tweet to the nurses desk. No nurse. You Tweet again, and again, and again. Where is the nurse???? The nurse never comes, because there are no nurses.

A bit farfetched, but the American health system has a problem brewing that has nothing to do with the current healthcare reform legislation. According to Marla Salmon, Dean of the University of Washington School Of Nursing;

“We’re actually at a crisis point in terms of the shortage of nurses,” (Source – http://bit.ly/81QGZs)

The American hospital is the lowest common denominator of critical and acute-care. A 24/7/365 operation, the hospital is the convergence point for all issues related to healthcare; costs, insurance (or lack there-of), quality of care, quality of equipment. Nurses make up over 60% of the average hospital’s staff; in any great hospital, nurses are the backbone of the organization and serve as the ‘face’ of the hospital to the patient. It is the nurse, providing minute-to-minute care that most directly impacts a patient’s perceptions of their hospital experience and the overall quality, real or perceived, of patient care. Given the nurses importance in the hospital community, following is a very alarming statistic:

In 2008, 100,000 nursing jobs were left open in the United States; this number is expected to surpass 1,000,000 by the year 2023. (Washington: Health Resources and Services Administration)

WHY?

 No one to teach – nursing schools losing educators

 Young people not selecting nursing as a career path

 50% of first year nurses leave the profession

 33% of senior nurses plan on leaving early due to burn-out, physical issues related to on-the-job demands (source: AMN Healthcare, survey of 1,830 nurses age 45-60)

 

NURSING IS A DANGEROUS PROFESSION or “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Patient”

Senior nurses are leaving the profession in droves due to the PHYSICAL CHALLENGES of patient care. Did you know Nursing and other ‘patient handling’ intensive healthcare roles have one of the highest incidences of work-related back problems of all occupations? Understandable when you hear the cumulative weight lifted by a nurse in one typical 8-hour shift is equal to 1.8 tons. TONS!

Patient handling is the #1 cause of Musculoskeletal Disorders among nurses.

The incidence rates continue to climb, and the direct and indirect costs associated with back injuries for nurses is $20 billion annually. Over 750,000 work days are lost annually as a result of back injuries in nursing, with an estimated 40,000 nurses reporting illnesses from back pain each year.

WHAT ARE THE HOSPITALS DOING ABOUT THIS?

With this resource crisis looming, hospital administrators are scrambling to position their hospital or health network as the ‘employer of choice’ for nurses. Nurses are recruited  like NFL free agents; signing bonuses, car allowances, flexible schedules, and front-loaded tuition reimbursements. In addition, Hospitals are stepping up efforts to keep senior nursing staff. Spa visits, entertainment nights, recognition events; yet still the nursing resource gap continues to widen.

ERGOLAB’S Point-of-View:

The healthcare industry must shift their thinking, shift dollars into programs that drive TRUE change and improvement, not just cosmetic changes.

ERGONOMIC PROGRAMS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

Enlightened hospital organizations are leading the way, implementing aggressive ERGONOMIC programs that drive positive change and make them the “Hospital Employer of Choice” among healthcare workers of all categories; nurses – seasoned and entry-level, aides and orderlies, technicians and other categories. The ERGOLAB team of Ergonomicsts works with hospitals to build comprehensive Ergonomic programs focusing on Patient Handling and Worker Safety. These programs are proven to drive down on-the-job injuries, increasing job satisfaction and staffer retention.

Our programs focus on (4) areas; Cultural Change, Training, Tools, and Environmental Re-Design. The most important changes are CULTURAL.   Hospital leadership must elevate EMPLOYEE SAFETY and well-being to the same level of importance as Patient Safety. Research shows that Employee Safety and Patient Safety are DIRECTLY connected. A safe and healthy Employee positively impacts the Patient.

At present, 65% of hospitals have some type of Safe Patient Handling program in place; program efficacy is mixed. Leading the way is the work of the VA Hospital networks; their Safe Patient Handling Programs is serving as the model for the private sector.  For more information, follow this link to an article detailing the VA’s work and private sector programs under development –  http://bit.ly/7sNPXx.  

Ergonomics is not the sole answer to our country’s nursing shortage; it must be part of a hospital’s strategy to drive nurse retention,  increase PRODUCTIVE days and reduce workers compensation costs.  Cost savings from Ergonomics could be redirected into additonal recruiting and retention programs.  Ergonomics can help.

 

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The primary objective of American business is profit.  Profit determines winners and losers.   Whoever makes the most money, WINS.   (note – I believe in the purity of the profit imperative….to quote Gordon Gekko from the film Wall Street; “Greed is good. Greed works”   Greed employs  people, builds nations, is the catalyst for innovation.)

That’s why I cannot get my head around why American business is so against a closer look at workplace injuries like Cumulative Trauma Disorders, Musculoskeletal Disorders and Repetitive Strain Injuries.  The data is clear; the costs associated with these injuries are significant, i.e. they are a drain on company resources…a drain on PROFITS.  The costs to proactively address injury driven by poor Ergonomic design are lower than the reactive costs of worker injury; workers compensation, healthcare treatment etc. 

So..simple  math.  Embrace a proactive Ergonomic strategy; INCREASE company profits. 

Still, American business hesitates.  

Glenn Spencer, executive director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Workforce Freedom Initiative, said Solis so far has been willing to listen to some of his group’s concerns. But he worries most about the possibility that Labor officials will try to revive costly ergonomics rules. Such rules would force businesses to redesign work spaces to protect employees from repetitive stress injuries.   (Source – http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wirestory?id=9460816&page=3)

A nudge is necessary; that nudge coming from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.  After 1 year in her cabinet position, Secretary Solis continues to turn up the heat on business.    In her words,

there’s a new sheriff in town.

In 12 months, Secretary Solis has done more to improve workplace safety, than the former administration accomplished in 8 years.   More inspectors, penalties with teeth and over 90 planned regulatory enhancements.  Business needed a wake-up call; mission accomplished.  

Labor Secretary Solis’ report card for 2009?   A+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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Muscle and Joint Pain Costs European Economies Billions in Time and Money

“A new study finds that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for nearly half (49 percent) of all absences from work and 60 percent of permanent work incapacity in the European Union. These and other socio-economic consequences of suffering from poor health due to muscle and joint pain represent an estimated cost to society in Europe of up to €240 billion.”

Interesting. The EU is capable of pulling off a deep dive across multiple countries and employment cultures and we in the US, continue to resist getting real visibility to the societal costs and impacts of MSD’s (Musculoskeletal Disorders) or Repetitive Strain Injuries. 

Take a look.  EHS Managers, use this data to build your case for an aggressive Ergonomics program in 2010.  We can help!

Muscle and Joint Pain Costs European Economies Billions in Time and Money.

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Remember that scene in Poltergeist? The TV goes all fuzzy and the little blond girl, Carol Anne gets that blanked out expression on her face and announces They’re Here…!!”   I can imagine US employers are feeling that same eerie, creepy feeling right now about OSHA’s  new movement into the Ergonomic space. 

This type of employer concern and pushback should be expected (check out article link from Business Insurance) – business sees  OSHA’s push for increased reporting of MSD’s (Musculoskeletal Disorders) in the workplace as a very SLIPPERY SLOPE.   First reporting, then perhaps…..REGULATION?   The R Word.  

Take a deep breath.  This is only about data collection right now…and to bottom line it, this data is necessary. Cumulative trauma disorders / MSD’s have been unreported and under-reported by American business for years.  Visibility to the aggregate impacts and costs of this injury category will open some eyes; MSD injuries drives down America’s productivity and drives up healthcare costs. 

Business fears that increased MSD scrutiny will add an additional  layer of cost is understandable but unfounded.  Proactive, ergonomic interventions reduce injury and lower costs.  ERGONOMICS will reduce their costs.  Get it out in the open, document what is there and deal with it. 

Face it….They’re HERE. 

Employers wary of changes in approach, focus at OSHA | Business Insurance.

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