Kevan Orvitz, Founder & President, MEGAComfort | Doctor of Podiatric Medicine
Warehouse and storage facilities are notoriously dangerous workplaces. Recent studies show that these environments are hazardous due to forklifts, conveyors, material storage, dock areas, and manual lifting and physical demands. The strenuous and repetitive physical demands on workers lead to numerous incidents of productivity loss, chronic fatigue, musculoskeletal disorders, high injury claims and government safety fines. Research shows that most of these injuries and losses stem from slips, trips and falls, as well as poor ergonomics, leading to pain and suffering. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, these warehousing and logistic industry incidents account for 15,000 illnesses and injuries annually.
Employees are under constant pressure to work long hours on their feet, standing and walking on hard and unforgiving surfaces. These conditions have been linked to an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Within this type of working environment, workers are forced to over-compensate for the lack of foot support, which causes muscle fatigue and exhaustion.
Providing employees with the necessary tools to succeed at their jobs is critical to their personal and professional success. Keeping workers safe and healthy encourages productivity, engagement and fewer healthcare claims. Quality care, safety and health starts with the feet and lower extremities, because they are the foundation and support for the entire body.
Here are some tips for reducing risk and preventing injury by leveraging ergonomic solutions in the workplace:
Creating an ergonomic workplace begins with evaluating and assessing the current working environment, including the daily routine of various employees. Identifying all of the risk factors facing workers will help create preventive measures and protocols. Some examples of risky behavior include; lifting, pushing heavy objects and carrying large boxes. These routine activities are typical in warehouse and storage facilities. However, analyzing how employees are completing each activity can illuminate solutions that prevent injury, illness and fatigue.
OSHA reports show that slips, trips and falls are responsible for most accidents, causing 15% percent of accidental deaths. Shocking statistics such as these demonstrate how imperative it is to evaluate worker behavior and workspace. Uneven flooring; obstructed walkways and aisles; peeling anti-fatigue matting; and any spills can be disastrous safety hazards.
Conducting physical assessments will help you discover patterns that often result in absenteeism due to back pain, ankle- and foot-related issues, and other injuries. Reviewing workplace behaviors and routines should be evaluated more often. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a comprehensive outline and model for review employee physicality. They suggest conducting surveys, site visits, and analyzing time and attendance data.
Ergonomic solutions can tremendously enhance the success of your health, wellness and safety program, because they have the ability to engage your warehouse and logistics employees in their personal and professional health. Safety program success starts from the ground up. Our feet are the foundation for everything that we do. They physically move us from point A to B and allow us to tend to the physically demanding needs of the warehousing and logistics industry. Providing employees with supportive ergonomic solutions increases healthfulness and workplace safety.
Anti-fatigue insoles are a cost-effective solution that provide workers with 360-degree workplace protection. Facilities that rely on anti-fatigue matting know how costly installation, repair and maintenance can be for mats that peel and age. However, anti-fatigue insoles have direct contact with the wearer’s foot and are easy to install, replace, maintain and clean. Their ability to mold to the user’s foot provides optimal comfort, increased shock absorption, and reduces pain and fatigue. Insoles are also helpful for preventing slips, trips and falls; anti-fatigue insoles prevent and reduce foot, leg and lower back pain. Employees are able to utilize them in their daily lives to increase health, wellness and safety.
Warehousing and storage facilities leave employees susceptible to injury from stepping on sharp objects. Puncture-resistant anti-fatigue insoles provide workers with preventative and protective support. Insoles that offer puncture resistant, dual-layer memory foam, that have been property tested for penetration resistance and corrosion, and that meet and exceed ASTM F2413-11 Standards, can prevent unnecessary pain and injury, while increasing comfort and productivity. These insoles are ideal for any environment with sharp objects, such as nails that fall on the floor.
Another ergonomic solution that’s protective and preventative, is the wearing of composite-toe overshoes. They provide scalable protection where there is risk of toe damage, or where to protection is required. Composite-toe overshoes are perfect for temporary employees or workers that visit or spend little time in a work site where they could face potential harm from falling objects. Not only are they easy to clean, use and replace; they help ensure all workers, temporary and visiting, have the same access to quality ergonomic safety solutions.
Increasing Health and Safety Engagement
After carefully identifying the risks and safety hazards facing warehousing, storage and logistic employees, and finding the perfect ergonomic fit for preventing musculoskeletal disorders, injury and illness, it’s time to ensure employee engagement. Making a financial commitment to ergonomic solutions is easier when you know employees are equally committed to their health and wellness results. Helping your employees understand that ergonomic solutions help ensure their health, wellness and safety is critical to program success. Outlining the benefits of implementing new ergonomic solutions helps build trust and fosters an environment of care and consideration.
Health, wellness and safety program success relies on analysis, consistency and communication. The more you encourage employees to take ownership of their role and provide them with quality and supportive ergonomic solutions, such as anti-fatigue insoles, the more you will create a safety culture of engagement and productivity.
Achieving Ergonomic Excellence
Investing in ergonomic solutions not only decreases injuries, illness, fatigue, absenteeism and healthcare costs; it also increases engagement, productivity and morale. Protecting employees from harmful workplace hazards, through quality ergonomic products, enhances their healthfulness, well-being and the success of the entire company. Providing tangible support for workers in physically demanding jobs, who are expected to stand or walk on hard and unforgiving surfaces for an extended time, benefit tremendously from products that provide comfort and protection. Companies that promote comfort, support and balance in the workplace create an atmosphere of engagement, pride and positive morale, benefiting the workplace and the success of the business. WMHS