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Office Ergonomics: How OPC’s Web-based Training Improves Ergonomic & Health Outcomes

We are often asked by our clients to provide workstation evaluations for large groups of employees most of whom have minor ergonomic issues at hand. The issue we discuss with our clients is how best to approach this knowing the level of our expertise & being cognizant of the fact that 25-50% of employees may require a full ergonomic assessment and education session. (all employees returning to work following illness or injury absence should have a full ergonomic assessment for their safety & to minimize risk exposures). Taking time for employees to attend educational/training sessions with us coupled with full ergonomic assessments can negatively impact your business in a number of ways:

Time: Having groups of employees away from their work can impact customer service and productivity

Learning: Learning experts find that a certain percentage of the information provided about ergonomics is lost within a few hours especially with group training sessions 

Diminished Value with Group education sessions and repeated ergonomic assessments; delivery of ergonomic services using this method for larger groups can become expensive.

Our conversations with clients and our experience is now finding the use of On-line Ergonomic Self Assess and Educational Tools provides solid ergonomic related instruction & permits employees to resolve the most common ergonomic issues without the need for a full ergonomic assessment. And even if an ergonomic assessment becomes necessary, the employee will have used our on-line self assessment tool and reviewed the educational sections of the on line course. These employees are then able to process & use the ergonomic consultant’s advice at a higher level. And the employee can refer further to the on line tool to refer back to following the ergonomic assessment
Learning is better retained and reinforced over time.

Our experience at OPC across Canada finds 50% of all office ergonomic issues can be resolved using simple rules and guidelines (Green Flag). We have determined the equipment, tasks, hazards, and solutions are similar enough to allow web-based programs to be an effective delivery method for all employees.

Our analysis over the last 20 years finds 30% of employees will have what we call Yellow Flag indicators they may need hands on training of short duration and/or access to simple ergonomic accessories. The remaining 20% require a full ergonomic assessment (Red Flag Indicators) by the Ergonomic Expert with education and access to more definitive furniture, equipment and environment related changes recommended.

And just how effective is a comprehensive ergonomic program including the use of on line tools?
American Express, reported an 80% reduction in workers compensation costs. http://www.gao.gov/products/HEHS-97-163

The Puget Sound HFES web site summarizes the results of 250 ergonomic interventions in their Cost-benefit section: www.pshfes.org

A recent review and follow up we conducted for a financial services firm in Ontario found a comprehensive program decreased WSIB related costs & penalties by 38%, Lost Days related to MSI’s decreased 19%, and the Cost per Claim decreased 45% (MSI’s are the most expensive type of injury as found by each Province’s compensation boards research on injury costing).

Using On Line Ergo Self Assess and Educational Tools makes good business sense.  The focus for solutions remains low tech and ensures much of the responsibility for health & comfort in the workplace rests with the employee themselves.  The tool also allows us to know when it is appropriate and most effective to bring in the experts to prevent injuries and lost time from work.

Something to consider as you further develop your Internal Ergonomic Program. 

JE Sleeth
If you want to learn more about the On Line Tool and Educational Tool feel free to call us 416 860-0002 or j.sleeth@optimalperformance.ca and we can tell you more.

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