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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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4 FOOT HEALTH TIPS FOR NURSES

 

 

SelectFlex is dedicating this Blog Article to the Nurses who take care of us all when we are sick and in need. Today is the start of National Nurse’s Week, which culminates on Florence Nightingale’s birthday, the founder of modern nursing.

 

 

 Under normal circumstances, Nursing is a demanding profession but, lately it’s become even more stressful. Nurses are known for taking care of others at the cost of their own well-being. Lack of self-care can lead to excessive fatigue and personal health issues. When a nurse takes the time to care for themselves, not only do they feel better, but colleagues and patients benefit as well. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds to create a work-life balance in addition to being a nurse role model.

Nurses especially, but also teachers, construction workers, hospitality workers and anyone else who spends a great deal of time on their feet, know the toll standing for long periods can take on the body. If the job requires standing for lengthy periods without rest, it can cause a wide variety of problems, particularly if combined with poor posture or shoes that don’t provide adequate support. These issues, over time, go far beyond tired feet and can develop into chronic foot pain and other ailments like plantar fasciitis.

1. Prioritize Foot Care

When standing, the same foot muscles strain repeatedly, as pressure remains constant. However, when walking about, the pressure shifts to and from different areas of the foot because the same muscles aren’t working all the time. Tired, achy feet are normal after standing all day but if feet hurt in one particular area after a long shift, it may indicate a need for more foot support.

Foot and leg swelling is a common consequence of working on the feet all day Foot care specialist Tamika Saunders, owner of Priority Feet in Grayson, Georgia, suggests nurses also take time after work to soak their feet in warm water with Epsom salt for about 10 to 15 minutes to loosen tight muscles, which can decrease inflammation and soreness. Although spending time and money on proper foot care may seem like a low priority compared to other daily demands, nurses like Saunders have seen the ramifications of neglecting this part of the body. “We learn to take care of our eyes, our teeth, our hypertension, but we rarely take care of our feet until something serious develops,” she said. “If nurses start focusing more on foot care, there are ways to alleviate pain that we have become accustomed to living with on a daily basis.”

2. Keep Blood Flowing

According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), working in a standing position on a regular basis can lead not only to fatigue and lower back pain but can also cause other health problems such as sore feet, swollen legs and varicose veins. These are common complaints among Nurses whose jobs require them to stand for long periods during a shift and can often be remedied with enhanced blood flow.

A good starting point to increase blood flow and alleviate these problems is to wear knee-high compression socks. The compression of the socks pushes on the veins and in turn produces more blood flow. Nurses often use socks that are 15-20 mmHG (millimeters of Mercury). Higher levels of pressure may be uncomfortable and lower levels may not prevent swelling. For comparative context, the average pair of panty hose that women wear carry an 8-10 mmHG rating. Nurses who wear compression socks will feel better at the end of the day and will reduce the swelling in their lower extremities as well as decrease their risk of acquiring varicose veins (Nurse.com).

Once a shift is over, put your feet up and let the body relax. Like compression socks, elevating feet at the end of a shift (or whenever possible) helps recirculate blood that has pooled in the lower legs and return it to the heart and throughout the body.

3. Focus on Footwear

Of all the things nurses can do to care for their feet, wearing high-quality, comfortable shoes is the most important important (Pain Resource). Grueling 12-hour shifts seem to go by in a snap when you’re wearing the right shoes. You may be surprised to learn that supportive footwear does more than just help keep your feet from getting tired and sore. It also supports the rest of the body, especially lower back, knees, and ankles.

Wearing the wrong shoes while at work can either aggravate existing ailments or cause new ones (i.e. fatigue, foot pain, back pain). Shoes that do not provide adequate support can harm foot arches and, in turn, affect the back. Often a well-designed orthotic shoe insert that supports proper alignment can help prevent back pain.

4. Take Proactive Steps

Nurses should be fitted for new shoes or orthopedic insoles every year and two pairs are a must, so they can be rotated between shifts. Because a nurse’s shoes and insoles are subjected to so much wear and tear, they’ll need replacing every 3-6 months. (EveryNurse.Org) 

The best orthotics for foot pain provide cushioning to relieve walking and standing pressures, as well as arch support that lifts the foot into proper alignment with ankles, knees, hips, and back. Also look for cushioned arch support insoles that will return energy to feet with each step you take throughout a shift, no matter how long it is.

When nurses are suffering from pain and fatigue, they may be less energetic and productive. Not only does morale take a hit but, it may also lead to lost-time injuries. Thankfully, solutions exist today that can reduce the impact of a tough work environment on nurses' feet. A high-quality insole foot-bed is the answer to reducing pressure and discomfort, and can make a world of difference in how feet feel.

Adjustable Arch Lifting Support

Proper foot alignment is critical to relieving foot and joint pain, as well as preventing future issues for nurses on their feet all day. That’s why we created SelectFlex insoles with the first truly adjustable arch that molds to each individual foot shape. No two feet are alike yet, most over-the-counter insoles are “one size fits all.” A key benefit of SelectFlex insoles is they provide three adjustable arch height and comfort settings to dynamically realign feet, ankles, knees, hips, and lower back into optimal position for maximum comfort and support all day long. (EHS Daily Advisor).


These 4 tips offer an arsenal of pain-fighting, energy rejuvenating tools for healthier feet. When feet feel fine, it’s much easier to keep up with call-lights, doctor’s orders, tests or emergencies, and get through long days on the job. Nurses—take care of your feet and your feet will take care of you—so you can care for everyone else.

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CORONAVIRUS EFFECTS ON THE VALUE OF CORPORATE WELLNESS AND IMPROVING WORKPLACE PRODUCTIVITY

SelectFlex is dedicating this Blog Article to the @Global Giving Coronavirus Relief Fund, which supports recovery in vulnerable communities during one of the most challenging times we have collectively faced. SelectFlex is doing our part by donating 10% of every purchase, so don’t forget to use code GLOBALGIVING at checkout!

How many times have we heard people ask, ‘What’s your return on investment on that project’ or ‘How much are we going to make and will it be profitable’? The principle of a return on investment (ROI) is to ensure that your investment receives the same amount of money back – or even more. From the prism of corporate wellness, when we invest in our workers we are also investing in our return. This is even more important in today’s world as much of the ongoing workforce is exposed to the Coronavirus. Keeping our workforce in the best shape possible, with the strongest immune systems, entails addressing their needs from the top of their heads to the tips of their toes.

As it relates to the tips of the toes, without proper foot support and shock absorption, workers who walk or stand for long periods of time during their workday are susceptible to pain and harmful musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that can have lasting effects on the body (ErgoPlus). Just as steel-toe footwear is often required as personal protective equipment for workers, insoles are essential for preventing pain and fatigue. 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, absenteeism or, in terms of individual employee efficiency, a less than optimal return on your investment.

Poor Foot Support Can Cost Employers Big $$$$

Employees who work on their feet everyday are at higher risk of MSDs. Physical work requirements within manufacturing, construction, healthcare, transportation, and similar industries include prolonged standing, static postures, overexertion, and repetitive motion, which can lead to aches, pain, and injuries on the job. Standing five hours a day contributes to significant and prolonged lower-limb muscle fatigue, raising your risk for long-term back pain and musculoskeletal disorders (WebMD). A recent study in Human Factors details that almost half of all workers worldwide spend more than three-quarters of their workday standing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 60,000 foot injuries per year result in lost work days and the average cost of a lost work day foot injury is $9,600. (Occupational Health & Safety).

Investing In Your Employees Feet = Growing Your Own Bottom Line

Every seven seconds a worker suffers from an injury on the job (Corporate Wellness Magazine.Com)Let’s face it, investing funds into any project certainly comes with a responsibility of understanding the potential for returns. Therefore, ROI is an important aspect of corporate wellness nowadays. Ignoring foot care can escalate many issues with employee health including, but not limited to, soreness of the feet, legs, knees, hips, and lower back, as well as balance issues. The end result is joint and muscle pain throughout the body in addition to overall fatigue. These problems are especially acute when the work environment includes hard surfaces, which are common in many workplaces both indoors and outdoors.

When employees are suffering from pain and fatigue, they are less energetic and less productive. Not only does morale take a hit but pain may also lead to lost-time injuries. Thankfully, solutions exist today that can reduce the negative impact of the work environment on employees' feet.

Insoles vs. Matting

Organizations usually consider two options to reduce employee pain and fatigue. Insoles and floor matting. Insoles offer numerous advantages compared to anti-fatigue mats, including easier installation, reduced costs, and the ability to protect mobile workers. However, there are numerous types of insoles available and workers require different insoles to address various levels of comfort and support for different job functions.

Personal insoles offer flexibility to both employees and organizations, making them an attractive solution (Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety). These benefits include:

  • Ability to wear anywhere. 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.

  • Personalized comfort. Employees can select the type of insole that best matches their needs, allowing for personalized comfort based on their size, foot characteristics, and arch type.

  • Direct contact with the body. As insoles are placed inside the footwear, they provide an ergonomic solution 100% of the time.

  • Reduced risk. Insoles reduce the risks of slips, trips, and falls by increasing balance, making the workplace safer and lowering expenses related to workers’ compensation claims. With matting, the edges could curl up and create tripping hazards.

  • Easy to implement. Insole programs are simple to implement, particularly if you have conducted a wear trial with a key group of employees first.

  • Cost effective. Insoles are more affordable than floor matting. Quality insoles can also stand the test of time, resulting in infrequent replacement.

Choosing the Correct Insole for Each Individual

To select the right insole for each employee, it's essential to determine what is needed most—shock absorption, support, or addressing pre-existing foot conditions.  Finding an insole that offers customizable comfort options allows companies to offer a solution for workers in any environment.

Insoles that provide shock absorption can be used to prevent health and pain issues, while those that provide more support can move the foot into the correct neutral position and realign it with other body parts. Insoles that are designed to properly support arches are not the same as insoles that are formed to the exact shape of one’s foot.  Heat-molding orthotic devices do not have a measurable effect on the biomechanical variables compared to the non-molded condition, because they’re not firm enough to provide corrective support (Journal of Foot & Ankle Research). Most importantly, these types of insoles reinforce the incorrect arch that's already causing foot pain and don’t offer pronation control.

Investing in your employees’ health, especially as it relates to workers on their feet all day, will pay immeasurable dividends. Not only will there be quantifiable benefits to the bottom line in the form of more productive and efficient employees, but priceless benefits achieved when employees are happier and healthier as well.

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