Archive for the ‘Risk Management’ category

Sitting…Ergonomics…and the Executive

May 22, 2017

OFFICE-WORKER-SLOUCHINGWe have all heard about the studies on sitting and how it can negatively impact our health.  It has been proven that sitting for extended periods of time is not good for us.

Office personnel, especially executives, spend a lot of time sitting and looking at a computer.  This sustained posture can cause neck and shoulder discomfort, headaches, low back pain, a sort of malaise, and shall I say it??? a feeling of “I’m getting old”!

Executives, many times, are too busy to even acknowledge the onset of chronic discomfort until lifestyles are affected.

25 years ago we discovered that the “laws of sitting” are not being taught.  This lack of education was exposed when our society became dependent on computers, allowing access to the world while seated in an office or home.

The exposure of this lack of knowledge manifested via fatigue, discomfort, pain and for some, even injury.  ATTEMPTED solutions have included ergonomic chairs, keyboards, sit-stand desks, treadmills with keyboards, etc.  Ergonomic solutions are certainly important, but my gosh, they can become quite expensive.  Moreover, how frustrating it is to the person with wrist, back or neck pain when the $800 chair doesn’t quite eliminate the problem.

Knowledge is power as the saying goes.  There are simple laws of how to sit.  Violation of these laws cause accelerated “micro trauma”. The accumulation of insidious micro trauma is called Cumulative Micro Trauma (CMT) which is the cause of the symptoms mentioned above.

If you assess your body right now, we know that in one or several areas you will feel your own CMT.  The good news is once we know the true source of a problem, the problem can be solved.

The laws of sitting, once known, puts people in charge of how they feel.  What we can do is learn how to sit properly, learn how to set up our chairs, monitors, keyboards, and yes, get rid of CMT by doing certain stretches designed specifically for executives and office support personnel.

I will share some of the laws that we teach in our Sittingsafe® workshops across North America over the next few newsletters.

Here is our first Sittingsafe tip:

blood-vessels-sem-1ykwp1oYour body has 62,500 miles of blood vessels (amazing fact!).  Blood provides oxygen, nutrition and takes away waste.  A law of sitting is to prevent closed angles.  Your ankles, knees, hips and elbows should be positioned at 90 degrees or slightly more to assist blood flow.  Key factors to open angles are the height of your chair and position of your keyboard, mouse and monitor.  Do not let your computer and office furniture dictate your body’s positions.  Adjust your chair so that your knees are slightly below your hips, for most of the day make sure your feet aren’t tucked under your chair (closes ankle and knee angles!)

When typing, your hands should be on the keyboard at the same height or slightly below your elbow (keyboard trays are needed by most people) and the same is true for the mouse.

We will continue these tips in our next newsletter.

Please keep in mind that it is quite simple to alleviate most discomfort caused by sitting.  You just need to know the laws of sitting contained in our Sittingsafe program!

FIT has trainers available across the US and Canada to conduct on-site Sittingsafe workshops for office and executive personnel.  We don’t sell furniture or ergonomic equipment.  We teach people what society forgot to teach us.  Knowledge is power!  Especially if it makes us feel good!

Contact us for more information on our Sittingsafe program (800.775.2225)

Dennis Downing, CEO

Future Industrial Technologies, Inc.

Roof Top Exposure

July 16, 2010

Looking out the office window I spied a team of roofers stripping a damaged roof, repairing it and re-shingling.  The sight of 12 men on a steep roof, with very few safety precautions in place gave me heart palpitations—a slight fear of heights revisited perhaps?!

Setting aside the slips/falls risk, I observed several shockingly egregious biomechanical no-nos.   Here you can see the torqueing whilst lifting heavy, bulky packages of roofing materials; bending at the waist, as opposed to lifting correctly…can you spot some additional safety offenses? 

It made me think about the diversity of job tasks and the epidemic of ignorance of proper biomechanics, and by ignorance I mean that people just don’t know!

Each of these roofers is important to someone—as a father, husband, friend, son, brother, co-worker.  When (and it is a near certainty that an injury will occur with the every day strain he places upon himself with poor biomechanics) he becomes injured, each of these people will be adversely affected.  Not to mention the poor injured soul who thinks that the injury occurred because of an isolated action.  He won’t know that it was repeated at-risk motions that gradually wore his body down until it gave in to the damage.  He won’t know that the injury could have been prevented.  And, most unfortunate, he’ll likely return to the same job with the same bad habits and become re-injured.  Thus, the tragic cycle of injury-work comp—re-injury and thus the business owner’s workers’ comp premium skyrockets. 

So, now I’ll step down from my soapbox and talk about solutions…

  1. Stretch muscles before, during and after repeated and/or strenuous activities.  These stretches don’t take much time, they are simple and most importantly, they are effective!
  2. Always Face the Load When Lifting. This mantra reflects the spine’s desire to NOT twist!
  3. Keep the Load Close to Your Body.  Reaching out from your body puts incrementally more and more pressure on your spine—again, it does NOT like this!
  4. Keep Your Head Level While Lifting.  This helps to keep the naturally occurring curves in your spine in the correct position.
  5. Wear some type of safety harness while working on high, unprotected surfaces, like a ROOF!

So, these are the tips that I share with you from these photos.  Have you got some good ones to add to my list?  Let’s hear ‘em!

John Lennon, Myopia and the Power of Decision

April 2, 2010

John Lennon wrote in his song “Beautiful Boy”:  “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”.  I remember these lyrics from years ago and found them to be quite profound.  Today I find that this concept—“life can happen to us”—relates quite well to those that manage workers’ comp programs.

Have you ever known anyone whose life seems to go like an empty canoe going down the rapids?  Life tends to control them versus the other way around?  This can lead to some pretty stressful living and can result in one becoming quite unhappy.

On the other end of the scale is the person that seems to direct their lives like a well-trained pilot, making it seem easy.  They seem to be “happening to life” versus the random and unpredictable inverse of that.  These people are usually successful in what they do and are much happier for it.

If “life happens” to a company too often then management is not effectively managing, and the organization’s profits are thus affected accordingly.  A test of good management is how well they control their areas of responsibility despite problems that inevitably present themselves.

You can do this simple exercise to feel the effects of “life happening to you” and then turn it around to “you happening to it”.  There is probably something on your desk that you have not done because you just haven’t wanted to confront it yet.  To the degree that it needs to be done and remains uncompleted, is to that degree is bearing some type of an effect upon you.  This is a small example of “life happening to you”.  Ok, now decide to confront this task and then do it!  In other words, “happen to it!”

The proof of you “happening to it” is that when you finish the task you will feel better.

The individuals who capably control their departments and attain desirable outcomes are the ones that are most valuable to the organization and thus are the ones that should be and often are paid the most money.

What attributes separate managers that, despite reasons to not succeed, achieve goals as planned versus the manager that gets sidetracked and daunted by “life’s other plans”?

I know we could probably list several attributes that most effective managers possess, however, I believe there is one that trumps them all.

That attribute is their ability to DECIDE!  Perhaps there is nothing more powerful than an unequivocal, pure, unfiltered decision.  We have all heard of the car being lifted off the ground to save someone.  We have heard of inexplicable victories over powerful enemies—1776 comes to mind; and the US Olympic Hockey Team collectively made an unequivocal decision at some point that they would beat the Russians on that remarkable day.

And I have witnessed in myself the final, absolute resolve to finally drop some pounds when I put on the last of my “fat pants” and shockingly even those had “shrunk in the wash”.  Decisions, when made with 100% commitment, are very powerful.

Without that firm, resolute, give-no-quarter, decision to accomplish something, doubts and reservations can creep in and like a tree root heaving open a sidewalk, can derail the best-laid plans.

Most great leaders have an uncanny ability to envision an outcome and to summon enough mental horsepower to know that their vision will in fact become a reality.  This ability is the basis of everything great that has ever been accomplished.  The ability to unequivocally decide on an outcome!

What does this have to do with workers’ comp you ask?  I say:  EVERYTHING!  Workers’ comp in many aspects is a constant fight for control.  It is not a battleground for the meek and faint hearted.  If the workers’ comp manager is the type that lets “life happen while you are busy making other plans”, workers’ comp costs become more bloated than passengers coming off a 2 week Caribbean cruise.

There is something else I have witnessed.  Those companies with high workers’ comp costs are those companies that simply have not truly decided that they want to control costs.  Does that sound ridiculous?  It is not!  Put a bull’s eye on workers’ comp costs with 100% resolve and those costs will go down.  If you are spending too much on workers’ comp that decision has yet to be made.

One of our clients got fed up a few years ago. They were spending $1.4 million on workers’ comp.  That is a lot of money that could be used much more profitably.  That’s what they thought too.  Despite medical costs of claims rising over the last few years, we have helped them drop their workers’ comp to under $300,00 in 2009.  That decision to control costs and to help protect the health of their employees is turning out to be worth millions of dollars over time going towards profit making activities versus unnecessarily burning money in the workers’ comp system.

This new economy is fixing the old malady of workers’ comp myopia.  You can’t continue to have costly claims anymore. Forget it!  Who can afford it?  The new strategy is attacking claims more upstream, so they NEVER HAPPEN in the first place.

We have tremendous success working with companies who decide and commit to stopping back injuries and other sprain/strains.  Once that decision is made, our job of getting employees to change their physical behavior at work and at home is a cinch.

You are only a decision away!  Make it!  Stop workers’ comp costs at the source.  “Stop tomorrow’s injuries today”!  Right now!

Welcome to the Backsafe® Blog

April 2, 2010

We are excited to launch our new Backsafe® blog!  Especially since April is INJURY PREVENTION MONTH!

Future Industrial Technologies, Inc. is a worldwide leader in Injury Prevention training.  Our practical workshops (Backsafe® and Sittingsafe®) and one-on-one training has saved countless companies millions of dollars on work comp costs and more importantly, relieved many people from pain and fatigue.

This blog will provide information on a variety of topics—work comp, injury prevention, ergonomics, cost cutting tips, etc.  We warmly welcome your feedback, comments, topic suggestions and questions.  Let’s get the conversation started!