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REDUCING WORKPLACE INJURIES – PART I

REDUCING WORKPLACE INJURIES – PART I

In this 2-part blog series, we will discuss the most prevalent workplace injuries, what causes them and ways they can be reduced. Part I focuses on two of the three top work injury events.

The Basic Facts

A study was completed in 2019 by the National Safety Council, compiling injury facts by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With a work injury occurring every 7 seconds, this accumulates to more than 4.6 million injuries per year.

The top three injury events (1) Overexertion, (2) Contact with Objects & Equipment and (3) Slips, Trips & Falls; account for nearly 90% of all injuries that occur at the workplace. These resulted in approximately 104 million lost production days in 2017 (NSC Workplace Injuries).

In 2018, 5,250 workers died on the job with more than 20% in the construction industry preliminarily attributed to (i) falls and (ii) being struck by objects. (OSHA Stats)

Although in the last 100 years we have eliminated nearly 80% of workplace fatalities, the most hazardous occupations remain on the most-dangerous list – construction, factory work, agriculture and mining. Today, however we are also concerned about things like ergonomics and the dangers of sedentary work. Industries are taking a more holistic view of safety and health so every employee can end their work day in the same or better condition as when they started it.

 

 

 

 

 

These figures are quite sobering however, they are mostly preventable with proper planning. Businesses will often incorporate what is referred to as the three ”E’s” for Safety Success. These controls in order are: (1) Engineer out as many risks as possible, (2) Educate employees on the risks inherent in their jobs and what the employer and employees can do about them, and (3) Enforce policies to ensure compliance with best practices for safety.

Combating Overexertion

Overexertion is an injury risk faced by many industrial workers who perform strenuous tasks over a long period of time. Overexertion is a major cause of sprain/strain injuries and inflammation of joints and ligaments that result from excessive physical effort. According to the National Safety Council, overexertion is the third leading cause of unintentional injuries, accounting for about 3.3 million emergency room visits, annually. (AG Safety: OSU) 

Overexertion can be avoided by EDUCATING employees on the following strategies:

  • Look to avoid working in an awkward posture. This can place too much stress on the wrong part of your body. Place objects as close to you as possible. Keep your body positioned square to your work. Remember, your toes should always point in the same direction as your nose, so avoid bending, reaching and twisting when lifting. (EHS Today)
  • Limit the amount of weight you carry, give yourself enough room to work in a neutral position and keep tools in good working condition. Also, stretching and warming up is imperative before heavy lifting or strenuous activity.
  • Repetitive jobs create muscle tension because they don't allow the muscles enough time to recover. Repeating certain movements for long periods of time can also increase your stress level, causing you to become tense. It's important to take frequent, short breaks and even stretch when possible.
  • The demands of the job must match the capabilities of the worker. This requires special training so all employees know how to perform their job safely.

To help combat the daily strains & stresses that your body endures throughout the workday, SelectFlex arch-control insole provides an alternative to the standard static inserts that everyone else offers. Due to the “dynamic” nature of SelectFlex, they not only provide arch support throughout the gait cycle but offers this adjustability in 3 selectable arch support settings. With an adjustable range of 11 to 17 pounds per step, this is the equivalent of offloading 20,000 to 30,0000 pounds of arch lifting support per mile for the body. For the worker on their feet all day, this amount of arch support will invigorate and energize the lower extremities like no other product on the market.

The Object Is to be Safe at Work

One of the leading causes of work-related deaths is contact with objects. This includes:

  • Struck against an object
  • Struck by an object
  • Caught in an object or equipment
  • Caught in collapsing material

Objects that fall, roll, fly, slide, slip and swing can do serious damage to a person. Construction workers hit by building materials, vehicles slipping off of jacks, loggers struck by trees – all have a high fatality rate, but all can be prevented.

About 75% of struck-by fatalities involve heavy equipment, such as trucks or cranes (Industrial Safety & Hygiene News). Workers in agriculture, construction and manufacturing are most at risk, but firefighters, police, transportation employees, office workers and others also can count contact with objects in the top three causes of death and injury. (EHS Today) 

Inattention to surroundings and being distracted can lead to injury, as does faulty equipment, lack of proper training, improper behavior by workers, or lack of workplace assessments and housekeeping. Paying attention is vitally important for those operating machinery, as well as those working around it. Once again, prevention of injuries and deaths caused by objects falls under adherence to the 3 E’s of Safety:

  • Check vehicles before use to make sure they are in safe operating condition
  • Securely and neatly store loose materials
  • Secure items that are stored at a height
  • Store heavy objects close to the floor
  • Open one filing cabinet drawer at a time to prevent a tip-over
  • Wear the proper personal protective equipment for your environment, such as steel-toed shoes and a hard hat
  • Always walk behind moving equipment if possible
  • Never obstruct your vision by overloading moving equipment
  • Only operate equipment you are properly trained to use
  • Make sure all safety devices on your equipment are in good working order before use
  • Use extra caution around corners and near doorways
  • When large equipment is being operated, always make eye contact with the operator before approaching
  • Secure all loads and lift them evenly to prevent them from slipping

When employees are proactive and employers provide proper education on job-specific hazards, conduct safety assessments, address gaps and provide corrective action, the risk of being struck by an object at work is dramatically reduced.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR PART II OF OUR BLOG “REDUCING WORKPLACE INJURIES” TO COME MONDAY 6/8.

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CUSTOM MEDICAL ORTHOTICS vs. OVER-THE-COUNTER (OTC) INSOLES

CUSTOM MEDICAL ORTHOTICS vs. OVER-THE-COUNTER (OTC) INSOLES

If you’re suffering from foot, leg or back pain, perhaps you have tried over-the-counter (OTC) retail insoles (also called prefabricated insoles) to ease your discomfort. Maybe you have even tried custom medical orthotics that were prescribed for specific ailments. In either case, both options have pros and cons which we will help explain.

The Quick Fix - OTC Insoles

If you’re in overall good health, there’s no harm in trying OTC insoles. Studies show that the nonprescription variety can be as helpful as custom versions for certain conditions (Berkeley Wellness). For instance, in a 2014 study in Musculoskeletal Care, people with plantar heel pain who wore prefabricated insoles for eight weeks had the same reductions in pain and disability as their counterparts who wore custom orthotics—at considerably lower cost. Though OTC insoles can be 1/10th the cost of custom medical orthotics ($15 - $50), there are often tradeoffs in terms of support, firmness, durability, and comfort.

OTC insoles fall into 3 categories:

  1. Foam insoles. When first inserted in shoes, foam insoles usually provide some level of comfort. However, due to lack of firmness, they offer minimal arch support. In addition, foam inserts tend to degrade very quickly and have a wearable life of less than 2 weeks.
  2. Gel insoles. Gel typically provides more support than foam but, because they offer no firmness, gel inserts are not considered a viable solution for long-term ailments.
  3. Rigid inserts. Rigid inserts are usually a piece of hard molded plastic placed under the heel or arch. Although they do provide support for those areas and are typically the least expensive OTC option, most people aren’t comfortable with this level of rigidity.

The Costly RX – Custom Medical Orthotics

If you have a serious foot, knee, hip, or back problem, it is well advised to see a doctor first, preferably a Podiatrist, Certified Pedorthist or Orthotist. Custom medical orthotics require a physical exam and digital foot mapping. Given this fundamental difference, custom medical orthotics can bio-mechanically correct / address the way you personally experience knee, heel or arch pain, and some lower back issues (Podiatry Today). They may also be recommended for specific biomechanics issues or health conditions.

Custom medical orthotics have the obvious benefit of being crafted to treat specific ailments for individual feet, but they also offer a longer wearable life (3-5 years is suggested) (Pain Science). However, their extended useful life is due to a higher level of rigidity than most OTC insoles. Though they may treat or provide support to specific areas of the foot, the rigidity may also cause additional discomfort and can become an issue if a foot or ailment profile has changed over time.

The biggest deterrent people face when considering custom medical orthotics is cost. Typically, they range between $400-$600, which amounts to more than 10x the cost of prefabricated insoles. Thus, if a less-costly OTC solution will ease a foot or lower body extremity ailment, most consumers are apt to go in that direction.

The Best of Both Worlds – Adjustable Arch Control Insoles

OTC insoles are accessible to everyone at retailers and pharmacies everywhere for reasonably low prices. However, they don’t always provide enough support due to the nature of the materials and one-size fits all mass manufacturing. On the other hand, custom medical orthotics may make a difference when OTC remedies fall short, but they can also be cost prohibitive as well as too rigid, causing discomfort and other issues.

Luckily, there is a new solution that provides customizable comfort, dynamic support and longer-lasting durability at near OTC prices.

SelectFlex arch control insoles are the best of both worlds. Uniquely, the patented SelectFlex PowerLIFT Arch™ (PLA) is the only insole technology that lifts the arch into correct anatomic alignment, simultaneously providing therapeutic benefits and comfort (ISHN April 2020). With the turn of a key, the SelectFlex PLA is easily customizable to 3 stiffness levels that conform to each individual’s arch and can be adjusted for either foot or type of activity. The chart below clearly illustrates the many enhanced benefits of SelectFlex in comparison to OTC retail insoles and custom medical orthotics.

The ultimate benefit of SelectFlex insoles are felt at day’s end, when dynamic alignment, arch support and energy return leave feet feeling comfortable and refreshed, even after walking miles. Studies show the SelectFlex PLA achieves 52% more arch support with each step in the gait cycle, and the PowerCup™ Heel provides 50% more ankle stability. When combined with the cushioning and moisture wicking PowerBed™, premium engineering and materials, SelectFlex insoles deliver maximum comfort and long-lasting durability at 1/4 the cost of medical orthotics.

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SUPPORT FOR SOLDIERS WHO CARRY HEAVY LOADS

SUPPORT FOR SOLDIERS WHO CARRY HEAVY LOADS

 May is Military Appreciation Month and May 16th is National Armed Forces Day. SelectFlex dedicates this Blog Article to all active and retired military personnel who have protected us and made our country great. 

PROBLEM – Soldier Injuries Caused by Carrying Excessive Rucksack Loads

When Soldiers and other Service Members are deployed, they not only risk injury and death from combat, but are also exposed to a range of other health threats that may have a negative impact on the mission performance and readiness. (WRAIR: Soldier Health)


Soldiers and Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan routinely carry between 60 and 100 pounds of gear including body armor, weapons and batteries. The heavy loads shouldered over months of duty contribute to the chronic pain soldiers suffer. Muscle strain is a short-term condition that has always been prevalent among soldiers but, after years of war, the number of acute injuries that have progressed to the level of chronic pain has grown significantly.
(NPR: The Weight of War)

A regular rucksack may look similar to a tactical rucksack but they serve two very distinct purposes. The daily rucksack may carry anything from 50 pounds of rocks on a hike to clothes and camping equipment for survival training drills. On the other extreme, tactical backpacks used in combat or simulation exercises average roughly 100 pounds and can get as heavy as 175 pounds. Because the excessive weight compresses or stretches the nerves to the arm, backpack palsy is an increasing problem among military soldiers, who report numbness, weakness, and even paralysis.

Soldiers Foot Related Over-Use Problems Decrease Combat Readiness

  • 80% of soldiers feet roll inward or pronate, creating painful misalignment and overuse injuries overtime, exacerbated by Rucksack loading.
  • Varying and excessive pack-weight loads cause substantial pain and impair function, reducing mobility and survivability while in combat1.
  • Load related injuries and chronic conditions of the lower extremities (feet /ankles / lower back) hinder mission effectiveness for recruits during basic training and soldiers in infantry units.
  • Supporting Variable Rucksack loads puts enormous strain on the arch of the foot and plantar fascia tendon group, that must unload and absorb compressive pack-weight loads, negatively affecting gait and diminishing mission readiness.
  • Acute and chronic injuries to feet, knees, hips and lower back occur due to the imbalance and misalignment of the musculoskeletal structure, when the foot arch fails to support lower extremities, especially under excessive load.
OBJECTIVE – Reduce Long Term Injuries and Increase Combat Readiness

 

There is an African proverb that states, “It takes a village ...” This maxim also holds true for the holistic approach required for soldiers who are ready, lethal and able to meet the Army’s needs. (AUSA – Health Soldier, Ready Soldier)


There is an African proverb that states, “It takes a village ...” This maxim also holds true for the holistic approach required for soldiers who are ready, lethal and able to meet the Army’s needs.
(AUSA – Health Soldier, Ready Soldier)

Soldiers feet and lower extremities endure significant hardship due to excessive pack weight carried in the field. Alliance Design & Development Group (ADDG), the designers of SelectFlex, have undertaken the challenge of building a Military-grade insole to support the unique requirements of soldiers. Our patented Variable Resistance Beam (VRB) technology provides selectable levels of suspension to augment and support natural body movement, particularly under load.

The SelectFlex Military version will maintain up to 25 pounds per step, or up to 50,000 pounds per mile of vertical lifting arch support. To put that into perspective, our SelectFlex retail insole provides 3 selectable support settings, with a range of 11 to 17 pounds per step, or 20,000 to 30,0000 pounds of arch lifting support per mile. For the average person, this amount of arch support surpasses the needs of the daily grind of civilian life.

The strain and stress of extreme loads can cause acute and chronic foot injuries, which ultimately leads to diminished combat readiness. Promoting proper pronation and arch deformation control improves balance, ankle stability, and proprioception in the lower extremities under load, regardless of terrain, environment or variable pack weights.

The SelectFlex Military-grade insole will be the only fully adjustable, customizable on demand in-field, all terrain orthotic that’s built for soldier’s boots. They will preserve energy consumption, optimize effectiveness, and help keep warriors in the highest state of readiness.

SOLUTION – Protecting Soldier’s Feet Under Heavy Pack Weight Load

SelectFlex is engineered to provide adjustable dynamic support to meet the variable compressive pack weight load demands on the foot arch of the modern soldier, where the vast majority of injuries originate. It can also provide the warfighter selectable suspension technology to customize and dynamically correct imbalances of the foot and ankle on the move in theater.

The SelectFlex arch suspension system for civilian retail is currently marketed as the PowerLift Arch™, but the same principal applies to military use. Studies have shown that SelectFlex delivers up to 52% increased arch support to help protect feet under heavy pack weight loads. Additional insole benefits for personnel include:

  • Lifts the foot into correct comforting alignment with 3 Selectable Arch Deformation Control Settings providing continuous, Anti-Pronating, Dynamic Alignment and Energy Return to the lower extremities under load
  • Allows for dynamic proportional support to the variable loads placed upon the foot arch throughout the entire gait cycle, custom conforming to each unique arch shape
  • Reduces pronation, aversion and knee deviation under load
  • Improves balance and proprioception in the lower extremities
  • Provides optimal mobility by improving gait under load

ADDG is looking forward to introducing its military version of SelectFlex, which will provide soldiers with dynamic arch support to help relieve the pressures of variable compressive pack weights and alleviate over-use injuries. Our mission is to support our soldiers and keep them battlefield ready.

  1. Dean C. The Modern Warriors Combat Load, Washington D.C. Department of the Army, Army Center for Lessons Learned, 2003
  2. George SZ Childs JD, Teyhen DS, et al. Rationale, design and protocol for the prevention of low back pain in the military (POLM) trial (NCT00373009) BMC Musculoskeletal, 2007)
  3. Quinnipiac Motion Analysis Lab Study Phase 1 completed in Jan 2020

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