Friday, December 7, 2012

Use Ergonomics to Drive Down Workers Comp Costs

Working at a busy tire dealership is a demanding job. Employees are typically surrounded by moving cars and trucks, heavy parts, sharp objects, dangerous machinery, and slippery surfaces due to all manner of fluids and oils that leak from vehicles. The simple act of bending and straightening to install tires day in and day out can be very taxing on the body, let alone the stress involved in hoisting heavy tires on and off a vehicle.

Ergonomics is the study of workplace equipment in order to reduce injury or discomfort and thus improve productivity. It's important to apply ergonomics when possible in the workplace to help reduce the instances of cumulative trauma disorder, which is a type of injury that occurs due to the stress of repetitive motions. Training employees to perform their tasks with an ergonomic focus can help limit the number of injuries sustained on the job, which can in turn help tire dealerships lower their workers compensation premiums. Here are some of the common workplace risk factors that can cause damage or injury to the musculoskeletal system; many if not all of them are typically present at a tire dealership:

    Performing forceful exertions and movements.
    Holding the body in extreme postures and performing extreme or repetitive motions.
    The exposure of the body to exertions, movements, etc.
    Exposure to vibration and cold temperatures.
    Rest periods and labor interruptions that are too brief.
    Certain types of work that is stressful (such as assembly-line work or other work that is paced by machinery; quota fulfillment or close monitoring of an employee's performance).
    Hazardous environmental factors (such as noise, slippery surfaces, coming into contact with extremely hot objects, and so on).

Improve working conditions (and productivity)

By establishing workstations with a focus on ergonomics, that tactic alone can help reduce on the job injuries, as working at a station that is too low or too high can trigger those extreme postures and motions that have been defined as risks. The height of a work surface should be based on the height of task that is being performed and the height of the object that the employee is working on. Four inches above elbow height is often appropriate for fine work such as mechanical assembly.

Simply enabling workers to perform more comfortably-without stooping or stretching for long periods of time-is a great start to making the workplace safer; at the same time, employers shouldn't be surprised if workers become more productive when their bodies no longer are subjected to excessive strain.

Employers should consult a professional insurance agent to learn more about how to protect employees in the workplace. An agent can provide information that will help improve overall safety as well as offer access to tire dealerships workers compensation programs.
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