Workplace eye injuries too common
Does training help workers identify ergonomic risks?
And the participants in that study were college students without industrial experience.
Last month, researchers from the University of Iowa’s College of Public Health published a new study that showed training improved workers’ ability to identify the potential for musculoskeletal injuries.
The study took place at a facility in Iowa that manufactures vinyl windows. The team that received training had nine members: three safety personnel, the production manager, the human resources manager, a representative from maintenance and three production employees.
The workers received initial training and then support meetings for one year. The initial training included instruction about:
- Musculoskeletal anatomy and physical risk factors
- Formal exposure assessments
- Hands-on, team-based assessments of tasks performed at the facility
- Examples of the development, implementation and evaluation of ergonomic controls, and
- Cost-benefit analysis.
The training took two half workdays. The support meetings were two hours once a month for one year.
Participants and the research team each ranked risks for 30 production tasks before and after the training and support meetings.
Result: Agreement between the research team and the workers on identification of ergonomic risk factors increased after the training and a year of follow-up meetings. The largest improvement was found for risks affecting the neck and shoulders. The most agreement between the two groups was for potential musculoskeletal injuries to the lower back.
The researchers note that this was an initial assessment after one year. The effectiveness and impact of the ergonomics training over a longer period of time wasn’t evaluated. Continued meetings may be necessary to sustain the improvement in ergonomic risk identification.
So, if you’ve ever had doubts about the effectiveness of ergonomics training provided to your company’s employees, you now have more scientific proof that it helps them, provided there are regular, continuing discussions on the topic.
The study was published in a December 2013 supplement to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Good safety boosts the bottom line
A recent study shows companies with good safety records are likely to have good overall financial performance, too.
Companies that build a culture of health by focusing on the well-being and safety of their workforce yield greater value for their investors. That’s the conclusion of The link between workforce health and safety and the health of the bottom line: tracking market performance of companies that nurture a “culture of health,” published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
The researchers looked at companies that had received the Corporate Health Achievement Award (CHAA) from the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). The CHAA recognizes the healthiest and safest companies in North America each year.
The result: The CHAA award-winning companies outperformed the S&P 500 in all four investment scenarios that were tested.
Focusing on health and safety of a workforce impacts healthcare costs, productivity and performance. These companies didn’t just happen to have healthy and safe workers. The employers built cultures of health and safety, and in turn, that provided a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
This research may have also identified a link between companies that focus on safety and health and those that successfully manage other aspects of their businesses.
Among the 29 companies that have won the CHAA since 1996: American Express, Johnson & Johnson, Caterpillar, Chrysler, Marathon Oil, IBM, Dow Chemical Co., GE Power Systems, Allied Signal, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin. These companies have undergone a rigorous evaluation by health experts, including on-site visits and extensive documentation.