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Work Wellness

HEALTHY FEET + HAPPY WORKERS = HEALTHY BUSINESS

HEALTHY FEET + HAPPY WORKERS = HEALTHY BUSINESS

Understanding The Work Environment

Workers who walk or stand for long periods of time during their workday, without proper foot support and shock absorption, are susceptible to pain and harmful musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that can have lasting effects on the body. Just as steel-toe footwear is often required as personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers, insoles are essential for preventing pain and fatigue.

If workers spend hours on their feet, there is an increased risk for inflammation and excess muscle fatigue that could be avoided with proper foot support and insole comfort. Aches and pains in the body associated with foot issues can also impact workers knees and back. Understandably, this can result in reduced employee work productivity, lower morale and increased absenteeism. Thankfully, solutions exist today that can reduce the negative impact of the environment on employees’ feet.

Healthy Feet Start With Smart Corporate Decision Making

In order to address foot and lower extremity issues within their workforce, companies are predominantly choosing between insoles and floor matting. Personal insoles offer numerous advantages over floor mats (Occupational Health & Safety). These benefits include:

  • Portability: Insoles can be implemented instantly without training and go wherever the worker goes. This makes them an ideal solution for both stationary and mobile workers who work both indoors and outdoors. Additionally, when a worker walks away from their workstation, the comfort stays with them. This option also protects employees who walk to and from work, ensuring they arrive and leave without strained or sore feet.
  • Personalize Comfort: Employees can select the type of insole that best matches their needs, allowing for personalized comfort for workers based on their foot size and arch type.
  • Direct Contact with the Body: As insoles are placed inside the footwear, they have 100 percent surface contact with the feet and body, 100 percent of the time, providing a reliable ergonomic solution. Therefore, they’re far more effective than the standard anti-fatigue floor mats at reducing muscle strain, improving balance reactions and increasing blood circulation. This helps to prevent pain and injuries.
  • Reduced Risk: Insoles reduce the risks of slips, trips and falls, making the workplace safer and lowering expenses related to workers’ compensation claims. Facilities that utilize matting, must make sure to keep the surfaces clean and well-maintained so that they remain intact and the edges don’t curl up and create tripping hazards.
  • Less Maintenance: Insoles are often machine washable, making them extremely easy to keep clean compared to mats that build up dirt over time.
  • Easy to Implement: Insole programs are simple to implement, particularly if you have conducted a wear test trial with a key group of employees first.
  • Cost Effective: Insoles are more affordable than floor matting. Top end cost for a floor mat is approximately $200 with higher end insoles at approximately ÂĽ that cost.

Rather than an afterthought, the right insoles should be considered as a necessary complement to any corporate health and wellness program. Implementing a company insole program is an important decision and all aspects should be considered, including employee involvement, to ensure the program meets the needs of all workers, and has a positive impact and acceptance rate.

How To Make Those Workers’ Feet Happy

The rank and file know that proper supportive insoles will help address physical work requirements such as prolonged standing, static postures, over-exertion and repetitive motion. The right insole provides better balance and overall lower body alignment. This in turn reduces aches, pain and injuries on the job. Another added benefit is that once an insole program is instituted, the confidence level for safety leaders will be increased.

(Corporate Wellness Magazine)

Finding an insole provider that offers numerous customizable and comfortable options allows companies and employees to explore a range of solutions for both plant/ warehouse and office workers. Insoles that provide shock absorption can be used to prevent health and pain issues, while others provide more support to align the foot into the proper neutral position.

A new insole, SelectFlex provides companies with a unique and cost effective way to offer their employees dynamic customization for their arch while, providing maximum comfort. With SelectFlex PowerLift Arch suspension system, the wearer is able to control the support level and dynamic firmness provided to the arch. This unique Arch-Control Insole has earned SelectFlex the honor as Best Foot Protection Product of 2020 by Industrial Safety & Health News (ISHN Awards), additionally, this superior technology will translate to improved employee foot health, reduced fatigue, higher productivity and lower injury/illness associated costs.

Different work activities, types of footwear and other factors within a corporation can impact the level of safety, comfort and support required. Therefore, it’s important to provide anti-fatigue solutions with multiple customization options. SelectFlex allow users to adjust support easily and quickly when these factors impact comfort, support and balance.

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REDUCING WORKPLACE INJURIES – PART II

In part II of our 2-part blog series, we address the third top injury event in the workplace, why it happens and what can be done to decrease its occurrence.

Preventing Slips, Trips & Falls (STFs)

​When people think about dangers in the workplace, they often underestimate the impact of STFs. Not only are these accidents major causes of injuries leading to missed work, but they can also be deadly. According to OSHA, slips trips and falls are second only to motor vehicles as a cause of fatalities, resulting in 15% of all accidental deaths. (Safety Online Worker). For workers in hospital environments, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics [2009] states that the incidence rate of lost-workday STF injuries was 38.2 per 10,000 employees, which was 90% greater than the average rate for all other private industries combined (20.1 per 10,000 employees). STFs as a whole are the second most common cause of lost-workday injuries in hospitals. (CDC)

10 Proactive Prevention Tips

While slips, trips and falls can often be attributed to carelessness or clumsiness, the good news is that most accidents are preventable. It is critical to frequently survey your work environment to avoid potential issues. Here are 10 proactive prevention tips to help keep your employees and customers safe and out of harm’s way. (Interstate Restoration)

  • Keep walking surfaces clean and free of clutter. An unobstructed path minimizes the opportunity for employees to trip over unexpected objects and reduces the potential for falls.
  • Keep stairwells clear, well-lit and free from unsecured objects. Stairs are a common area for falls in the workplace and additional care is often required to reduce the risk of injury.
  • Power, internet and phone cords can often create a sea of obstacles for employees and customers. Try to run cables behind walls or under carpets to keep them hidden. Install power outlets, internet connections and phone jacks in easily-accessible locations to avoid running cables across walkways.
  • Proper lighting inside and outside of the workplace can help illuminate common areas where employees or customers may trip or fall. More often than not, steps or other hazards are hidden in darkness or shadows. Installing spotlights, step lighting, reflective tape, etc. helps highlight problems areas and can reduce STFs.
  • Using clear, well-placed signage can help call attention to potential problem areas. A sign indicating a step, gap, uneven ground or loose rocks will call attention to the hazard and increase awareness and attentiveness.
  • Providing ways for employees to reach heights safely, such as ladders and accessible step stools, can minimize falls. By ensuring supportive options are present, there is less chance that an employee (or customer) will decide to rely on unstable chairs, desks or tables.
  • Make sure there are no cracks or holes in building flooring or in the pavement outside. Repair any problem areas immediately and be sure to place warning signs in/on/around areas that need to be fixed.
  • Rugs are an easy solution on otherwise slippery surfaces, but be sure to add non-skid padding beneath all rugs.
  • In the event a spill occurs, immediately place warning signs around the hazard, then tackle the cleanup process as soon as possible.
  •  Make sure employees wear footwear that is appropriate for specific work conditions. Shoes with proper arch support should be provided to facilitate optimal balance at all times, as well as shoes with good traction to avoid slipping.

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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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