The human body is a marvelous machine, perhaps the most advanced, high-tech machine in existence. It can accomplish a seemingly never-ending array of tasks, including creating and using machines and tools so humans can do super-human tasks. But unlike tools and machines, the human body can heal itself – to a point.
When that point is reached, we usually seek help. When a tooth aches, we see a dentist. When a leg is broken, we see a doctor. But when workers get a stiff neck from using a computer, or back pain from lifting boxes, or arm and shoulder pain from moving lumber, they usually just complain. Often nothing happens until the pain forces them to see a doctor. That treats the symptoms but does nothing to solve the ergonomic problems that caused them.
That’s where ept Rehabilitation’s Healthy Workplace suite of services can help. In addition to the Early Intervention Program (EIP), Safety Meetings and Job Placement Assessments, ept‘s Healthy Workplace also offers On-Site Ergonomic Evaluations. These are job site evaluations by a trained ept therapist that are designed to maximize productivity while reducing or eliminating worker fatigue, pain and physical discomfort. On-Site Ergonomic Evaluations can be performed for any diagnosis or any work task.
On-site evaluations can assist employers with productivity issues, such as employee time lost from work, or ongoing or new workers’ compensation injury claims. In the case of an existing compensation claim, an on-site evaluation can assist the medical doctor and insurance company in moving the workers’ compensation claim toward closure.
On-Site Evaluation Services
Briefly, here’s what happens during an ept On-Site Ergonomics Evaluation:
1. Ergonomic analysis of the worker’s job duties with recommendations for modification(s) in the way the worker performs tasks, or with physical changes to the work environment, or both.
2. Analysis of the worker’s body mechanics and instruction in correct posture and corrective exercises.
3. Recommendations for adaptive equipment, if needed. Various options for adaptive equipment are given to help employers contain costs.
4. An objective, detailed summary report of the evaluation is provided to the employer and the worker. In the case of an existing workers’ compensation claim, the report also is provided to the attending physician and the insurance company.
How It Works
1. There are a number of ways an on-site ergonomic evaluation request can be initiated. For example, a computer operator can begin the process by complaining to a supervisor about neck and arm pain. Or an ept physical therapist can schedule an evaluation as part of a new EIP case. However the process begins, it moves into high gear when the decision is made to conduct an ept Rehabilitation Healthy Workplace On-Site Ergonomic Evaluation.
2. An experienced ept Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist who has received special training in workplace ergonomics travels to the worker’s job site to evaluate individual job tasks as they relate to the worker’s complaint, injury or diagnosis. The therapist identifies tasks and workplace factors with a potential high risk for injury. As the assessment proceeds, the therapist suggests ways to solve the problem or problems associated with each risk factor.
3. After the assessment, the therapist provides a written evaluation that includes the worker’s name, employer, job title and description, and the history of musculo-skeletal symptoms, as well as the risk factors involved in the complaint and the solutions recommended. The evaluation report also often suggests “Other Considerations,” such as taking micro-breaks every 20 to 30 minutes, or using specific stretching exercises during the day, depending on the findings.
Two On-Site Evaluation Scenarios
So, what are the benefits of having an ept Rehabilitation professional conduct an On-Site Ergonomic Evaluation as soon as a worker’s problem has been identified? Read the following two scenarios based on actual ept Rehabilitation cases and decide for yourself.
Scenario 1: An office worker complains of elbow pain. The supervisor requests an on-site ergonomic evaluation from ept Rehabilitation. We discover she leans too much on her chair’s armrest and that her wrists are in an extended position on the keyboard. (Both are common causes of elbow pain for office workers.) We instruct her in proper work postures, tell her to flatten the keyboard props and recommend that the armrests be removed from her chair. We further recommend a wrist rest for her keyboard in order to help support the upper extremities and position her wrists correctly while typing. Finally, we instruct her in the appropriate stretching exercises and self-treatment for her condition to promote healing. The worker loses no work time, and the employer realizes an increase in that worker’s productivity.
Scenario 2: An office worker complains of elbow pain. The complaint goes on for several months. The worker begins to lose time at work for medical appointments. She files a workers’ compensation claim. Finally, her doctor takes her off work for two weeks. This extends to one month, then two months. The employer has had to reorganize the staff to cover the injured worker’s duties, yet still has no idea when the worker will be returning to her job. Eventually, ept is called in to provide an independent ergonomic evaluation, resolve risk factors, and instruct the worker and other office workers in proper ergonomics, exercises and self-treatment. The out-of-pocket cost for this scenario may include
Staff overtime pay
Increased worker’s compensation premiums for three years
Thousands of dollars in total costs for three years
Other ept Rehabilitation Ergonomic Services
- Group presentations on ergonomic principles and injury prevention are also available. These presentations include basic principles of workstation setup and are tailored to the needs of workers in specific jobs so they can identify potential risks and “work smart.” Similar presentations can be given to management, supervisors, safety and health committees – anyone and any group that can benefit from basic ergonomic knowledge. ept Rehabilitation will provide a letter to your insurance carrier to document your active participation in promoting injury prevention.
- On-Site Ergonomic Evaluations as part of post-offer/post-employment evaluations can help employers meet the requirements of federal ADA laws. These evaluations, when done in conjunction with independent job activity tests, establish valid job descriptions and acquire quantitative physical demands analysis validity while reducing the employer’s exposure to negligence claims.
- ept Rehabilitation can provide employers consultation assistance in the purchase of ergonomic equipment, as well as assistance in safely returning employees to work with temporary modification of duties.
Evaluations for a Smart & Healthy Workplace
ept Rehabilitation offers On-Site Ergonomics Evaluations for all work environments in Humboldt County, whether they are in office or industrial settings. Our goal is to help you, the employer, find the most cost-effective workstation and/or workplace solutions that will result in healthy workers and improved productivity.
While it is true that federal and state legislators have begun to adopt ergonomic guidelines that affect a broad range of workplaces, there is no reason to fear that this will bring high up-front costs to your business.
As the two brief scenarios above illustrate, the quick implementation of good ergonomics can mean good economics for your business. This is particularly true if you take an aggressive, proactive stance and take advantage of ept Rehabilitation’s On-Site Ergonomics Evaluations and other Healthy Workplace services.