Tom Cruise was told to “Show me the money” in the movie “Jerry McGuire”. And after some trials and tribulations, he is able to get his client to the very top of his career. I have not watched that movie in a number of years, but every time I talk to an employer about the benefits of a safety program, or the benefits of pursuing a solid ergonomic program, one of the first questions is typically “Show me what it saved the other guys and what it will save me.”
If the employer believes there is a safe workplace and a good loss run, then it can be a hard sell. But what that person does not know is there is always room for improvement. Also just because it is going ok now does not mean it will be in 3 years from now. The workers comp world is always changing and morphing into the unknown, as the stressors of personal life and work life mount. Until they finally show themselves by stealing attention for 4 seconds, and a hand goes into a worker’s machine. And at that point that worker’s life is changed forever.
That is an extreme example, but injuries do happen! Here are 4 examples of companies benefiting from the installation of an ergonomic/safety program. (References to the examples below are listed at the end of the article.)
Hensel Phelps Construction
This company began to notice large spikes in musculoskeletal disorders among its employees. So to combat this problem, they hired and implemented a pilot program at one of the company’s larger construction sites that consisted mainly of a customized stretching and strengthening program for the workers based on the specific jobs they were performing at that site.
After implementing the program, Hensel Phelps employees logged over 104,000 hours at that pilot jobsite without any reported work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
104,000 hours! That is 2,600 40-hour workweeks. Hensel went from having a major outbreak of a specific type of injury, to almost wiping it out. It is hard to argue with that success.
In 1995, Quad Graphics instituted a comprehensive ergonomics program using employee-led management teams to identify ergonomic risk factors for workplace injuries and institute training and controls to reduce the risk drivers.
Within 4 years, Quad Graphics experiences a 25% reduction in the number of work related injuries, a 39% decrease in the number of back injuries, and an overall reduction in lost work time days of 25%.
The key here is that Quad uses “employee-led” teams. We often mention using your employees as a resource. They are the ones working those same workstations day after day. They have legit ideas, so tap into your best free resource and see what they tell you.
Rockwell experienced an increase in injury rates at its Milwaukee facility in the early 1990’s as the worker population and seniority rates changed.
A comprehensive approach to injury prevention is developed focusing on ergonomic training, ergonomic retrofitting, and on-site stocking of frequently used ergonomic items such as hand tools, floor mats, foot rests, and anti-vibration gloves.
Rockwell reports a significant reduction in lost time and/or restricted workdays as a result of the program.
Again the key is taking a step back, identifying the risk factors, finding out what options are available to reduce the risk, and implementing them. All you have to do then is sit back and track the numbers over the course of 6 months or a year. The more you are working at full capacity, the better the production, the stronger the profit margin.
Tyson Foods in Monett, MO
Tyson discovered increased musculoskeletal disorders identified at this specific location. In order to combat these numbers, Tyson instituted an on-site medical management program in March 2002 to reduce the number and severity and these injuries.
The medical management team consists of an on-site physical therapist to assist with job placement and job analyses, as well as follow up on the doctor prescribed treatment of work-related injuries. The occupational health nurses, physicians, and therapists met together at least annually as a group to discuss the successes of the program as well as to recognize any areas of improvement.
This program is successful because it produces enhanced job placement, improved and personalized modification of job duties for injured employees, improved communications between the therapist, doctor, team member, and management team, as well as faster recovery times, and in some cases it leads to prevention of work-related injuries/illnesses. Again this is a fantastic success for a large manufacturing location such as this.
There are no more excuses for not implementing a safety team or program after reviewing these 4 examples. Each of these stories is a great example of identifying a problem, establishing a program to correct it, and tracking the successes of your implementations. Your broker/carrier/TPA has resources to get you started in the right direction. The sooner the program is implemented, the sooner to start saving on claims.
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. She is the author of the #1 selling book on cost containment, Manage Your Workers Compensation: Reduce Costs 20-50% www.WCManual.com. Contact: RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.
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