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Always Clean Your Spills at Work

Always Clean Your Spills at Work

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and Arcata California)

Ergonomics Tips: Always Clean Spills at Work to Avoid Slip and Fall Injury

According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), most general industry incidents involve slips, trips, and falls. 

We’ve all had our clumsy spills in the office, but it’s important to understand that cleaning a spill is serious business. It may be tempting to leave the small spill for the janitor to find, but that small spill could lead to a major slip and fall injury.

According to the National Safety Council (2011), “research finds that ‘fall from the same level injury’ is one of the highest injury causes” in the workplace.

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Stay proactive at the office

Always clean up spills that you see, even if it wasn’t your fault. Stay proactive, clean all spills immediately, and post proper hazard signs on wet surfaces that are being cleaned to prevent slips.

Also, be mindful that not all slips will come from spilt beverages, so it is important to keep an eye out for them while you walk around the office.

For example, wet floors from rain, exposed cords, unstable work surfaces, uneven floors, loose rugs, cluttered areas, or even dusty areas may cause employees to slip and injure themselves.

To prevent tripping, be sure not to allow any clutter (like boxes) to enter any walking paths of the office. Be sure that all tripping hazards like phone or electrical cables are properly installed and tucked away.

Make sure your HR Department has an office safety plan

OSHA mandates that employers shall provide a training program for each employee who might be exposed to fall hazards, so make sure your Human Resources department has developed an office safety plan.

Every office safety plan should be reviewed annually and updated whenever changes in procedures or the office environment could create new hazards or impact existing ones.

Additionally, posting reminders near food and drink stations is a great idea.

In conclusion, stay educated.

Stay educated by researching common office safety hazards to help prevent work related injuries. To learn more about work safety issues, visit us at SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more information.

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3 Reasons Every Workplace Needs an Ergonomics Assessment

3 Reasons Every Workplace Needs an Ergonomics Assessment

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)

 

Ergonomics: “an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely, called also biotechnology, human engineering, human factors, ergonomic” as defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Whether you work in an industrial warehouse or an office, every workplace should have an ergonomics assessment done. An ergonomics assessment (sometimes referred to as workstation assessments) will ensure that your office is not only safer to work in, but more productive and more efficient as well.

An ergonomics assessment is designed to lower risk of injury and improve employee productivity by ensuring that a worker’s workspace is ergonomically sound.

Below are just a few of the many reasons every workplace needs an ergonomics assessment:

1. An ergonomics assessment will save your company money in the long run.

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While it may be tempting to save money by not using an expert to assess your workstation, it will pay off in the long run.  Businesses will save money when there is less workplace injury, less compensation claims, more efficient workers, and lower insurance.

According to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industry, “on average an ergonomics assessment will pay for itself in about 8.4 months.”

2. Productivity and the quality of your product will improve.

An ergonomics assessment of a workstation will allow employees to work faster with less effort. Proper posture, fewer motions, less difficult reaches, and less exertion means efficient employees and a higher quality product.

 “Businesses report an average increase of 25% in productivity and a 67% reduction in errors after an ergonomic assessment” according to WSDLI.

3. Your employees will love you for it!

Employees will appreciate the effort that your company invests into ensuring that they have a healthy, safe, and productive workplace. Employees perform their tasks every day, so they know when certain injuries or pains could have been prevented by proper equipment and a proper ergonomic assessment.

You may even receive a spike in productivity from their happiness alone. According to the University of Warwick, “happiness led to a 12% spike in productivity, while unhappy workers proved 10% less productive.”

In conclusion

An ergonomics assessment not only ensures a safer work place, but also improves productivity and creates a positive work environment filled with happy workers.  If the cost is an issue, keep in mind that investing in a better work environment for your employees will pay off in the long run.

For more professional, ergonomics guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more information.

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Ergonomics Tips: Pros and Cons of Open Offices

Ergonomics Tips: Pros and Cons of Open Offices

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)

“70 percent of US offices have some form of an open concept” International Facility Management Association 2018

While there are many issues to consider when designing the perfect workspace (ergonomics, safety issues, sitting vs standing, etc.), the open office space is a trend worth examining. In fact, according to the International Facility Management Association, “70% of US offices have some sort of open concept.” Despite so many offices adopting the open office, there has also been an increasing pushback to the idea. So, just what are the pros and cons of an open office environment?

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The Pros

Tech companies like Facebook and Google helped make the open office environment popular and many other companies have followed suit. One of the major selling points of the open office is that it tears down cubicle walls and allows employees to openly communicate and build relationships.

The idea is that, without walls, office workers will be able to brainstorm and bond while working, ultimately becoming a greater team with greater productivity than their cubicle counterparts.

Additionally, open office spaces tend to be more affordable to build than cubicles as well as more attractive to look at in an office setting.

The Cons

While the cubicle wall sounds old fashioned, it was serving a few purposes. Having walls around you allows for you to work in privacy and focus directly on your task, which can be lost when exposed to the noise and distractions of the open office environment. In fact, “75 percent of office workers report frequent noise during the workday and 38 percent would change jobs to have an office door they could shut,” according to Gallup 2017.

While open offices are designed to promote more communication, the lack of privacy may have had a negative impact on communication. YouGov reports that “31 percent have had to go to a closet or hall to make a call and 31 percent have held back thoughts and opinions for fear of co-workers hearing and judging.”

Design the workspace that feels right for your workers

Open office layouts may increase face time, leading to stronger bonds, but it could also lead to negative communication or fear of communication due to the lack of privacy in the forced open space. Knowing there are pros and cons to having an open office, it may make sense to seek out alternatives.
 
The Hub and Spoke office design attempts to extract the best of the open office while maintaining some of the concepts of the private office design. The Hub and Spoke utilizes “a singular entryway into common spaces and hallways that spoke out to different individual offices” as described by ArchDaily. The concept is meant to be a mixture of the open office and the personal office, which allows workers the ability to collaborate, but also work on their own in private.

An important takeaway is that you should balance different concepts and create a custom space that works best for your needs.

In conclusion

Whether your workers work in a home office, open office, cubicle workstation, or other type of workstation, it is important to create a healthy work environment for your workers because it will lead to more productivity in the long run.

We recommend contacting an ergonomics expert to perform an ergonomics assessment on your workspace. For more tips about your workspace, be sure to visit and subscribe to our blog for more office and ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics consultants located in Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.

Ergonomics Tips: Work Safe While Pregnant

Ergonomics Tips: Work Safe While Pregnant

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)

Ergonomics Tips: Work Safe While Pregnant

“About 75 percent of women in the workforce are of reproductive age, and more than half of new mothers are employed.” Workcare

While pregnancy is generally a joyful time, it can impact your safety outlook in the workplace. Considering that “more than half of new mothers are employed” according to Workcare, it is important to discuss any possible job hazards with your employer and educate yourself on what hazards to look out for and how to avoid workplace injury.

There are many temporary adjustments and additional precautions workers can take to stay safe when working while pregnant.

What are some of the workplace hazards to look out for?

As with all safety issues, it is important to always speak with your doctor. Additionally, you should never hesitate to speak to your workplace administrator or human resources department for assistance specific to your job tasks.

In general, occupational hazards and limits are set for non-pregnant workers and what is safe for you may not be safe for your unborn child. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers some examples to consider:

  • “Changes in your metabolism increase how quickly you absorb some chemicals (e.g. some metals).
  • Because of physical changes, the personal protective equipment that you could wear correctly before pregnancy may not fit properly, such as lab coats or respirators.
  • When pregnant, changes in your immune system, lung capacity, and even ligaments can alter your risk of injury or illness due to some workplace hazards.
  • A fetus might be more vulnerable to some chemicals because of its rapid growth and development, particularly early in pregnancy when its organs are developing.”
  • During pregnancy, women experience fluid retention, which may cause vulnerability to De Quervain’s tenosynovitis, which is an inflammation of the fluid-filled sheath that surrounds the tendon, especially if a repetitive job is involved. Outside of the workplace, new mothers experience wrist and thumb pain from lifting their baby or holding their baby’s head during feeding.

Additionally, the CDC.gov website provides job specific examples at: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/repro/pregnancyJob.html.

It is also recommended that employers perform a worksite-specific evaluation of hazards and contact an ergonomics specialist for an ergonomics assessment.

What can you do to avoid injury?Ergonomics Consultants | Solutions Northwest Inc.

Aside from getting plenty of rest and not overworking, communication with your employer is key. It is important to communicate with your employer and learn more about their safety protocols as well as your safety options as a worker.

Once you notify your employer, they should be trained to provide accommodations for you and be open to providing any additional, reasonable accommodations needed.

Additionally, it may be necessary to contact an ergonomics expert to ensure that your workstation (for example, a computer desk) is properly adjusted to your needs.

Be sure to know your rights

According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “if the employee can no longer perform the essential functions of their position, and there are no other reasonable accommodations available, reassignment to an open position, or if no open positions, a leave of absence, may be the only potential reasonable accommodations possible. However, it is important to be aware, an employee may not be forced to take a different position or a leave of absence as a reasonable accommodation, if there are other reasonable accommodations available.”

SolutionsNW.com recommends that pregnant workers visit https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/pregnant_workers.cfm to review their legal rights in the US.

In conclusion

Due to several workplace protections set in place for pregnant workers, you should have a positive experience. If you are the workplace admin or work in the human resources department, be sure that your workplace is properly prepared for pregnant employees by knowing the laws listed by the ADA, the CDC, and OSHA.

It is also a good idea to have experts on standby, for example, for any ergonomics issues you may encounter, you can contact an ergonomics specialist to assess your workplace and ensure your workstations are flexible for a variety of workers.

Hopefully these ergonomics tips can help keep your workplace a safe work place. For more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more information.

Subscribe to our blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics consultants located in Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.

 

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Ergonomics Tips: How to Work in Comfort

Ergonomics Tips: How to Work in Comfort

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)

Ergonomics Tips: How to Work in Comfort and Avoid Workplace Injury
Ergonomics Tips: How to work in comfort

“A total of 5,190 workers died from a work-related injury in the U.S. in 2016, the highest annual figure since 2008. The fatal injury rate was 3.6 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, the highest since 2010.” BLS.gov

Whether you work in an industrial plant or retail store, it is important to understand how to avoid workplace injury. Musculoskeletal injuries such as, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and bone fractures can be the result of working in awkward positions instead of your best work zone.

In order to avoid injury, it is important to perform the majority of your work tasks in your best work zone.

What is your best work zone?

Your best work zone (sometimes called the “optimal zone,” “comfort zone,” or “hand shake zone”) is the zone (or area) in which you can perform your work task while maintaining a comfortable or neutral posture. Working in this zone is less likely to cause musculoskeletal injury because you won’t be straining in any awkward positions.Ergonomics Consultants | Solutions Northwest Inc.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has created an illustration to show exactly where your preferred and best work zones are:

According to OSHA, “work is safest when lifting and reaching is performed in these zones. Working outside these work zones results in non-neutral postures that may increase the risk of injury. It is particularly important to perform heavy lifting tasks within the best work zone.”

In Conclusion

As you do your daily work, be sure that you are working in this best work zone. You can call it your “handshake zone” as an easy way to remember or print this blog out to be sure you’re working in your best work zone.

Additionally, if you work on a work bench, assembly line, or countertop that is not in your best work zone, then you should consult with your manager or supervisor about installing height-adjustable equipment to prevent workplace injury. You may want to refer your manager to an ergonomics expert for a workplace assessment as well.

Hopefully these ergonomics tips can help keep your workplace a safe work place. For more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more information.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics consultants located in Washington State, Kent, Renton, Arcadia, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.

 

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Taking Breaks Makes You More Productive at Work

Taking Breaks Makes You More Productive at Work

Post By: Celeste McLaughlin, Ergonomics Manager
Produced by: Solutions Northwest, Inc. (Ergonomics Experts serving Washington, Oregon, and California)


Ergonomics TIps: Taking Breaks Makes You More Productive at Work

“Adults employed full time report working an average of 47 hours per week, which equates to nearly six days a week”Gallup 2017

For a lot of American workers, taking a break can come with a feeling of guilt when your boss or co-workers work through their breaks. In fact, the average full-time employee reports working an average of 47 hours per week, according to Gallup.

Even more telling, “54% of employees left vacation days unused in 2016” according to Travel Association research. Skipping breaks and vacation is leading tErgonomics Consultants | Solutions Northwest Inc.o high stress in America’s workers.

Overworking is bad for your health

Overworking yourself will leave your body tired and your mind stressed out. Stress is bad for your health, the University College London found that stress can even impact your heart when studying 10,000 London workers. UCL found that “white-collar workers who worked 3 or more hours longer than a normal, 7 hour day had a 60% higher risk of heart-related problems than white-collar workers who didn’t work overtime.” Moreover, not everyone copes with stress well, which could lead to developing poor habits to manage a stressful work day.

When you factor the risks of constant stress, with being over tired due to lack of breaks – your work quality declines and you put yourself at risk for injury and poor health.

Overworking is bad for your work

If your health isn’t enough to sway you, consider that overworking doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing a better job.

According to the University of Illinois, most people will lose focus on their task and their project will suffer if they work non-stop without breaks.  “The breaks we take to recharge, eat meals, or spend time with the people we enjoy help us step back from our work and stay mindful of how our work contributes to our goals,” the study shows.  These breaks improve our ability to finish tasks and contribute to overall better performance at work.

Find ways to take breaks during the day

Using professional sports as an example, coaches rest their players to keep them useful during critical times of the game. Knowing this, it is important to find ways to rest from the daily grind throughout the day to improve your overall performance.

If you sit in an office all day, make sure you find moments to move your body. Visit the water cooler, grab a coffee, go eat lunch outside in the sun, or just restock the printer with some new paper.

If you do repetitive tasks at work, stretch your back, neck, or hands. Try some desk exercises you can do while at work to keep your body strong and take your mind off work.

By the end of your work day, you will have enough focus and rest to finish the work day strong.

In Conclusion

Don’t feel guilty taking your breaks, it will help you do a better job in the long run. If you’re a supervisor or managing employees, be sure to let them take their breaks, so you have a rested and focused staff.

Hopefully these tips can help keep your workplace a safe work place. For more guidance on all work related health and safety issues, visit SolutionsNW.com or Contact Us for more information.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog for more ergonomics tips from Solutions Northwest Inc., ergonomics consultants located in Washington State, Northern California, Oregon, Seattle, Olympia, Tacoma, and Portland.

 

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