One of the aspects that I've noticed to be really useful when developing a relationship with an employer is the education of the entire system, especially regarding Workers’ Compensation, the Occupational Safety & Health Act, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. So in this post, I’m going to highlight the roles of Workers' Comp, OSHA, and NIOSH. Many employers lack the time (or awareness) to fully appreciate and implement ergonomics, but understanding the roles and responsibilities of these three is beneficial in our marketing and education campaigns. In addition, it also helps to promote our skillset and fulfills our passion for providing amazing ergonomics services to our clients.
As ergonomics professionals, we should work closely with employers to make sure that they follow the guidelines and regulations that protect their employees and improve workplace safety. Although there are a number of federal and international organizations that have created guidelines and regulations to promote health and safety in the workplace, they're all similar no matter what country you're in. For this post, we’re going to be focusing specifically on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA), and Workers' Compensation.
What I’m going to be sharing with you is very reflective. It’s going to be simple tips that you can add value to your clients and prospects alike. One reason as to why this is so valuable is because it takes time and resources (whether or not you're paying for it) to educate your clients, your prospects, or your community. If employers don’t fully understand how ergonomics can make their operations easier and keep their employees safer or why maintaining compliance and regulatory standards is important, then they won’t see ergonomics as a value.
One way to help them incorporate ergonomics into their company culture and integrate it into their daily operations is by explaining how these different organizations are related to them. It’s not only a really good way to move forward with an organization, but it's also going to be beneficial for your entire community.
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that requires companies to pay premiums. The Workers’ Compensation insurance then pays set rates for benefits depending on the job and the type of injury. Workers’ compensation is similar in many other jurisdictions around the world.
To be covered under the Workers’ Compensation insurance, an injury must meet three conditions:
Workers’ Compensation is a no-fault system. This means that the injured or ill employee can get compensation, but they give up their right to sue their employer. So that’s one valuable aspect you can share with them. Employers need to understand how worker’s comp can help protect their businesses.
As ergonomic professionals, I’m sure you’ve heard about OSHA already, but how did it all start? Well in 1970, it is estimated that around 14,000 workers were killed on the job. Due to public uproar against the increasing injury and death rates, the federal government passed the Occupational Safety and Health Act. An administrative agency, which is OSHA, was formally established the following year under the US Department of Labor.
Have you seen these health and safety statistics? If not, I recommend that you head to the OSHA website. You’d be surprised at how expensive both indirect costs and direct costs of a carpal tunnel syndrome injury and other types of injuries are. Most employers have no idea about these statistics, so that's useful information you can share with them.
Another thing you want to check out from the OSHA website is their processes and standards. OSHA provides specific processes and standards for different industries, such as construction, agriculture, and maritime. I've looked at this before, and it's incredibly valuable because OSHA really goes into the processes. You can share them with your employers and make a process for them based on what OSHA recommends. I encourage you to check that out because it's just so incredibly useful.
Using OSHA's processes and adapting it to your client's needs can build and transition "one-off" ergonomics assessments to a long-term relationship.
Employers must abide by the OSHA regulations through activities, including:
The last governmental organization that I want to talk about that’s very important to ergonomics is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. NIOSH actually has its own lifting equation. It's a powerful tool used to assess the manual material handling risks associated with lifting and lowering tasks in industries that require physical labor.
NIOSH performs research and education functions, conducts and reviews research to identify hazards present in the workplace, and prepares recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury. Although NIOSH is generally classified as a non-regulatory agency, the recommendations presented by NIOSH are usually used by other agencies in charge of creating and enforcing workplace health and safety regulations like OSHA.
And that’s it! We discussed the value of the Workers’ Compensation, the reason why OSHA was established, as well as how the research function of NIOSH is related to OSHA. You might have heard a certain ergonomics course is compliant with OSHA. Well, it simply means that those courses are looking at the risks related to how injuries are brought about and what the necessary actions are to mediate those risks. Most courses are compliant with OSHA; however, I think you should also do your own due diligence and research to figure out what that process is in the first place.
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