At ERGOLAB, we spend a lot of time with prospective clients, assisting them in building a business case for why Ergonomics must be included in their company’s Health & Safety programs for the coming year. The pitch takes data; hard proof that Ergonomics delivers measurable, bottom line impact to an enterprise. We include findings from our completed programs, as well as data from the Public sector resources; OSHA, NIOSH and academia. Of these outside resources, no report is more meaningful and valuable than the Workplace Safety Index.
For 10 years, Liberty Mutual, in partnership with the US Bureau of Labor & Statistics and the National Academy of Social Insurance have tracked the leading causes of workplace injury and the aggregated costs associated with those injuries. The report, known as the 2009 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index or WSI, was made available this week. This year’s report captures injury data from calendar year 2007. The report deep dives the Top 10 injury categories, as these injuries are responsible for just over 86% of all costs associated with workplace injury.
TOP 10 – Category / Cost / % of total
- Overexertion – Injuries caused from lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, or carrying a heavy object – $12.7B, 24%
- Fall on same level – $7.7B, 14.6%
- Fall to lower level – $6.2B, 11%
- Bodily reaction – injuries from slips or trips without falling – $5.4B, 11.2%
- Struck by object – $4.7B, 9%
- Highway incident – $2.5B, 4.7%
- Caught In/ Compressed By – $2.1B, 3.9%
- Repetitive Motion – $2.0B, 3.8%
- Struck Against Object – $2.0B, 3.8%
- Assaults or Violent Acts – $0.6B, 1.1%
What do these numbers tell us?
ERGONOMICS IS MAKING AN IMPACT.
Over the 10 year span of the research, Repetitive Motion injuries like carpal tunnel and tendonitis have declined by over 35%. Proactive Ergonomic strategies, like task assessment and redesign, are making an impact. In particular, the work done in improving working conditions in OFFICE ENVIRONMENTS has delivered results. Office technology like computers, keyboards, and computer mice are more ergonomically designed, informed by years of Human Factors & Ergonomics research. The office environment is better equipped to support the SEATED human body for longer periods of time; as an example, office chair design has leaped forward, providing improved support and adjustability. Improvements in other tools like keyboards trays, task lighting and adjustable worksurfaces ensure neutral posture and reduce/eliminate extensions beyond the reach envelope.
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT – ERGONOMICS CAN DO MORE
OVEREXERTION driven injuries, from lifting, pushing, pulling an object have dropped by 5.7% over the ten year span of the study, some improvement, however more work needs to be done. The human body is being asked to perform physical tasks BEYOND its abilities. The bottom line, these work tasks must be identified, assessed and redesigned.
In an earlier blog post we discussed the impact Patient Handling is having on Nursing / Healthcare Provider Safety. Everyday, the American nurse lifts an average of 1.5 tons of weight. The result; injury and lost productivity. This is one example of many existing in US business today. Ergonomic task assessment and redesign is essential; the cost to the US economy is staggering; $24B in direct costs.
COSTS CONTINUE TO RISE.
Even as the number and severity of workplace injuries decline (or stay flat). Costs continue to increase. Over the ten year span of the study (1998 to 2007), costs increased between 5.4% to 5.8% year to year on average. Not surprising, as healthcare costs everywhere are spiralling out of control. This cost escalation only reinforces the need to continue to focus on injury reduction and elimination. Of course, Ergonomics can and will play a role in this activity.
Are there work tasks within your business that you’d like to discuss? We’re here to help.
For a closer look at the WSI, use the following link – http://bit.ly/8513J9