For many businesses, workers’ compensation costs can be driven not by a few major injuries but by many relatively minor ones. Taken together, lots of claims arising from simple injuries like strained muscles, repetitive motion disorders, and so on can lead to significant costs for insurers, drive up a company’s workers’ compensation experience modifier, and push premiums higher.
Ergonomic analysis is a critically important strategy for reducing the risk of what can be thought of as slow-motion drivers of workers’ compensation cost.
OSHA’s definition of ergonomics—fitting a job to a person—provides a useful foundation for understanding the goal of ergonomic analysis. Jobs in many industries expose workers to the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. Traditionally high-risk professions, like construction, are familiar with these types of injuries. But they also happen in “low-risk” environments, like offices.
Ergonomic analysis studies individual employees’ work habits to prevent injuries from sources like these:
- Heavy lifting.
- Doing the same motion repeatedly.
- Reaching above the head.
- Frequently twisting the body to reach workspaces.
- Working for long periods in an awkward position.
Because ergonomics are partly driven by the individual doing the job, employees play a key role in developing ergonomic strategies. The analysis process examines all the physical aspects of an employee’s job, including the work environment, the tools the employee uses, and the movements required to complete routine tasks.
Using the employee’s unique physical traits, an ergonomics analyst proposes adjustments to reduce strain and eliminate high-risk movements. Changes might be as simple as a slight correction to the height of a chair, or they may involve incorporating safety equipment like a back brace to an employee’s daily routine.
An ergonomic analysis should be conducted by a trained professional. For best results, the process needs to actively encourage employees to participate. Once completed, the analysis should be documented, with clearly defined procedures for each employee to follow. Verifying compliance is also crucial. A review several months after the initial process is introduced should re-evaluate the ergonomics of each employee’s job to verify correct movements are being used and new problems haven’t crept in.
Gunnin Insurance assists clients with high experience modifiers and other workers’ compensation challenges to get from where they are today to where they want to be. We do this by identifying areas of risk and offering solutions that will produce long-term, sustainable results. Ergonomics analysis is just one example. To begin tackling your business’s risk management and workers’ compensation challenges, reach out to Gunnin today.