Poor Ergonomics Account for Half of Musculoskeletal Disorders

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just over half of all work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) result from poor ergonomics. Overexertion, fatigue, and poor posture are just some of the risks that pose safety and quality issues across industrial teams. Proactively mitigating ergonomic risks can help prevent injury and improve productivity. Here are the top three things to look for when working with an insurance carrier to implement solutions and reduce the potential for MSDs across your team:
 

1. Industry Experience 

You know your business. Your carrier and their risk management team should too. Partner with a carrier that offers dedicated ergonomics support for your industry and can provide engineering solutions that fit your specific business needs. Having the right base of industry knowledge will allow for better task assessments, training and ultimately, results.
 

2. Tailored, Integrated Approach

No two teams are exactly alike. Seek a partner that will provide you with tailored suggestions for redesigning job tasks to help reduce risks. A strong risk engineering/risk management consultant will work closely with your operations management team and other staff as needed to help you evaluate your production processes, recommend improvements and create a detailed action plan to incorporate ergonomics into job tasks design. This can also include training the operations or engineering teams to recognize and address ergonomic risk factors effectively and sustainably. Good engineering controls enhance productivity, and can also reduce re-work and other quality issues. 
 

3. Return on Investment

Sometimes solutions come with a price tag. Your carrier and Hartford’s Risk Engineering Consultant can clearly articulate examples of how mitigating the risk with a tailored solution creates a safer, more productive environment that can save your operation money in the long run. 
 
Consider this example:
 
A manufacturer of steel golf club shafts was seeing a high volume of hand/wrist MSDs across its team. An ergonomic evaluation by the insurance carrier – with specific manufacturing industry knowledge on its risk management team – revealed the main issue was on an assembly line. A repetitive job task involved having employees adding ridges to the club shafts by forcefully holding them in place over a machine, and that work caused stiffness in the hands/wrists and over time, numerous employee claims. 
 
The carrier ergonomics team recommended a solution of adding automatic feeders to the assembly lines, which eliminated the need to repeatedly and forcefully push and hold the golf club shafts in place. The solution also increased efficiency because one worker could operate two or three machines at once. 
 
After an implementation cost of only $15,000, the manufacturer’s return on their investment, including operational gains and direct and indirect loss cost avoidance, was more than $220,000. Best of all, the implementation of the automatic feeders completely eliminated employee MSD claims.