expert interviews Apr 21, 2022

In this post, I want to talk about opportunity in ergonomics. 

One of the best things about adding ergonomics to your professional skill set is the potential to explore other service opportunities. Our clients are going to have different levels of needs, which means that there's a full spectrum of services that we can offer them that will help improve their business. As a healthcare professional, have you ever thought to yourself that what you're doing is valuable yet there’s so much untapped potential to leverage your background and expertise?

For Danni Arroyo, she sees a huge opportunity in combining her ergonomics expertise with other employer service skills. As the owner of Work Safe Consulting, LLC, Danni is leveraging her background in Occupational Therapy and ergonomics to provide unique services that she tailored to fit the workplace’s needs and challenges. Danni’s company offers professional consulting and on-site clinic services to companies in Nebraska and Iowa seeking assistance for injury prevention, ergonomics education, and many more. She has experience working in both industrial and office environments.

I chatted with her to discuss her background, the different types of services she offers, and her thoughts on marketing ergonomics services. Below is an excerpt of my interview with Danni.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

DA: I’m an Occupational Therapist by trade. When I graduated from OT school, I went straight into a specialty called Industrial Therapy and worked in that for several years. When I left that company, I got hired as an ergonomics specialist for a Fortune 500 company to revamp and rebuild their in-house ergonomics program that hadn't had any updates since the 20 years that it’s built. That's where I learned how to do office ergonomics. I didn't really do office ergonomics previous to that. I was introduced to a lot of office furniture and things like that, which is probably the biggest challenge of office ergonomics—keeping up with that stuff. And then about about four years ago, I went off on my own and started my own company called Work Safe Consulting.

Q: You mentioned that you've gotten through the industrial therapy and the industrial side of ergonomics. Was that something that attracted you in the first place? 

DA: What attracted me to that job was that it sounded different. The job listing that I responded to specifically pointed out the fact that we weren't going to deal with insurance at all. I'm not sure what healthcare is like in Canada or other countries but in the United States the healthcare system, especially insurance-based healthcare, is just not good. I think a lot of healthcare providers get burnt out working with insurance. So when I saw that job listing, I responded to it because it sounded really interesting and I thought that maybe I could actually make a difference if I didn’t have to go through the insurance. 

Q: What was your experience with switching from starting in Industrial Ergonomics to moving to Office Ergonomics? 

DA: A lot of people think office ergonomics is very simple. Compared to industry, it is, but there’s still a lot of knowledge that you need to have. Ergonomics is kind of a glamorous word almost because it's stuck on to a lot of trendy products that oftentimes are not ergonomics at all. 

With office ergonomics, there's a lot of education that needs to go into it. Just because we buy a really nice chair doesn't mean that you're automatically going to be set up perfectly. So in office ergonomics, there's the equipment component, which can be overwhelming in general. Usually, with office ergonomics, you’re setting it up for one particular person. So you really need to make sure that they're happy with the setup that you have for them and that it's functional for them. 

In industry, you’re usually working on a workstation where many people are going to be there. So you have to make it fit the most amount of people as possible, and It's not going to fit anyone perfectly usually. 

When I switched to office ergonomics, my biggest learning curve was just all the equipment and just finding a few things for each option that were generally good. You almost kind of just have to come to terms with that because there's so much new equipment coming out all the time.

Q: What types of services do you offer your clients?

DA: I do various types of training. I do some standard ones. I really prefer trainings that are actually targeted more towards that specific client, so I can do specialized trainings. I do office and industrial ergonomics. Our company is primarily industry. We do office ergonomics for most of our clients, but we do a lot of industry. In addition to that, we do injury prevention clinics on-site. So we're doing a lot of education in the clinic, which can involve basic interventions and a lot of on-the-job training since we're physically in the plant. We also go to management and talk to them about ways that the jobs can be improved to decrease injuries. We also do Post-Offer Employment Testing for new hires. So it's a pretty holistic program.

Q: What's your opinion on offering Functional Accommodation as a service deliverable? 

DA: I think that's a huge benefit. That’s definitely something that we help employers with. Here, it's called Reasonable Accommodation. So if there’s someone with a disability or injury, you would look for appropriate jobs for them. If the employers are open to it, it can be a really beneficial service for them to retain good employees. It's nice to have someone who can help find that job that will fit who's really familiar with the physical demands of the job, and also has some background in that person’s injury or illness and come up with options for accommodation where the job might be able to change a little bit. 

Q: Where do you see the future is going for ergonomics?

DA: I think ergonomics will continue to grow. It's preventative, which most of our healthcare in the United States isn’t preventative. It's very reactionary. I've listened to several episodes of your podcasts from people around the world and I think that's kind of what most healthcare is, even outside of the United States. 

We can't continue to just react to people getting injured and getting these serious injuries that impact them for the rest of their lives. 

Our job market right now, particularly in the United States, it's really difficult to find employees. So I think employers are going to continue to look for ways that they can increase employee retention, keep their employees happier at work, and cut down on work-related injuries.

Q: What can you recommend to other Ergonomics Professionals when it comes to marketing ergonomic services? 

DA: I don't consider myself good at marketing, so I joined your Accelerate program, which is very helpful and I very much feel like I'm learning about marketing every day. I will say that when I provide learning opportunities or just general presentations to safety groups, for instance, I always ask for feedback. I like to say I can only think of my brain. So if I'm saying something and it makes sense to me, that doesn't mean it makes sense to other people.

I always want feedback on ways that I can say something so it's more clear to the general public who's hearing it.

Q: If you could recommend something to somebody who's starting out in the ergonomics world, what would their best first step be?

DA: I think just getting some general education in ergonomics. In therapy, we do have a very general education in our graduate degrees that we get—at least the school that I went to is very general. I definitely wouldn't have felt comfortable marketing myself as a consultant with what I had in grad school. So just some continuing education to introduce yourself to it further. If you go to in-person continuing education, you'll meet other people who are already actively doing it. That might be a good place to kind of pick their brains about what their day-to-day looks like to see if it something that might actually be a good fit for what you want to do for work. 

And there you have it. I hope this interview inspired you. Are you missing an opportunity to better serve your clients? What's one action that you can take in your business that will move it more towards your goals?

If you have any questions for Danni, you can reach out to her through her website.

If you want to learn how other healthcare professionals are already adding office ergonomics expertise to their services, get on the waitlist for the same program that Danni is in, the Accelerate: The Business of Ergonomics Program. Accelerate gives you the necessary tools and resources that will help you generate more revenue for your business. Just click here to sign up.


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