Health-June 15, 2015

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16 HEALTH • June 15, 2015 Through changes to workstations and work habits, productivity can rise \\ By Phyllis Hanlon E very industry, from business and construction to manufacturing and agriculture, faces its own ergonomic challenges. From factory workers who spend their days standing at an assembly line to office clerks who sit at an awkward angle during eight-hour shifts, virtually everyone is a candidate for aches, pains and physical damage related to their jobs. Ergonomics, the "inter-disciplinary science that explores human capabilities and limita- tions and uses this knowledge to improve the design of things people use and the ways in which they work," according to the American Psychological Association, may hold an answer to good health. ERGONOMIC ADJUSTMENTS Companies have come to realize the importance of good ergonomic conditions, not only as a way to help ensure a healthy workforce, but also as a key element of a robust bottom line. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports 650,000 work-related musculoskeletal disorders annually, resulting in more than $20 billion in costs to employers, which include worker's compensation and medical expenses. The indirect costs reach as high as $150 billion a year and affect absenteeism, productivity, quality of work and staff retraining and replacement, according to BLS. Meanwhile, the National Business Group on Health reports that employers with health and productivity programs can reduce disability days between 10 and 35 percent, increase return-to-work rates by 6 percent and achieve return on investment from 3:1 to 15:1. Tom Willett, owner of Worcester Physical Therapy Services Inc. (WPTS), and his staff of athletic trainers, physical therapists and exercise physiologists, specialize in workplace ergonomic evaluations, which include analyses of workers' posture, time spent on a particular job and the amount of reaching involved, for a number of area businesses. "Then we compare the data to what's optimum," said Willett. "We quantify how many times a person is doing a motion, at what rate of speed, the duration of the motion, the dangerousness of the physical position." PHOTO/WWW.ABSOLUTVISION.COM

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