The Aging Worker: Proactive Cost-Effective Ergonomics

By: Ronald Porter, PT, CEAS III

In 2013 US businesses must address the impact of an aging workforce, increased benefits expenses and a tepid economic climate.  Proactive ergonomics is a simple cost-effective solution to reduce or control risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders for ALL workers.

A “persistent” injury can occur where the client’s symptoms are not resolved even though they have received excellent medical management. Understanding how to apply ergonomic principles in job design and set-up can be one of the most cost-effective ways to address this issue.

The best ergonomics programs involve a problem solving process, to identify the “root cause” of employee fatigue which will contribute to the reported musculoskeletal disorders and other medical issues.

Employee behavior and psychological attitude have been shown to be significant factors since the 1980’s when Stanley J. Bigos, MD studied over 30,000 workers at Boeing.  Successful ergonomics programs find that it is critical to address behavioral and attitude modification.

Helping workers view themselves as workplace athletes and applying the principles of fitness/athletics to the work environment is significant for success with ergonomics programs.

Skills developed in ergonomics awareness training by The Back School have always will focused on the validated techniques of Power Zone and Workplace Athlete training to accomplish this most important goal.

Technique is important in all sports activities and the same is true with work tasks. When these principles are practiced at work, employee performance (productivity) improves and risk of accident and injury decrease.

Training workers to understand and use the best practices from ergonomics will show dividends for businesses of all sizes. The material handler, manufacturing worker, healthcare professional and call center/office worker all need a healthy and pain free body to perform their best.  We all age, but we can slow down the wearing out process of our precious bodies by applying ergonomics principles in all aspects of business development and implementation.

Mr. Porter will present simple cost-effective solutions to reduce or control risk factors for aging workers, in his presentation:  The Aging Worker: Proactive Cost-Effective Ergonomics.  He will explain the “persistent” injury, aging workforce, and prevention issues, power zone, and workplace athlete programs. Mr. Porter will offer practical suggestions for developing and implementing an ‘ergo leader’ program to reduce workers’ compensation injuries for aging workers.

Ronald Porter, PT, CEAS III is a recognized expert in the field of Occupational Safety and Health, and Ergonomics. In the past 30 years, since becoming Director of the Back School, he has instructed over 1000 workshops and seminars on Ergonomics Awareness and Musculoskeletal Disorder Prevention to physical and occupational therapists, medical doctors, occupational health nurses, and industrial health and safety professionals. Ron has worked with over 200 industries, including Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, US Foods, Mars Incorporated, E.I. Du Pont, DS Waters, Shell Oil, International Paper, Cingular Wireless and the United States Navy, on the development and implementation of innovative ergonomics programs for both individual plant sites and entire corporations. He was chosen as the 2012 ASSE Ergonomics Practice Specialty Safety Professional of the Year and is often a featured presenter at regional and national safety and health association conferences. His recent presentations include: the 2007 – 2012 American Society of Safety Engineers Professional Development Conferences, the 1995 – 2005 and 2011 American Association of Occupational Health Nurses Annual Conferences, the 2010 National Ergonomics Conference and Exposition, SEAK Annual National Workers’ Compensation and Occupational Medicine Conferences in 2005 – 2007 and a March 2010 national webinar on the Aging Workforce for the ASSE Virtual Classroom. His Bachelor of Science degree is from the University of Tennessee Knoxville and his Graduate Degree in Physical Therapy from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. He is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association, American Society of Safety Engineers, the American Industrial Hygiene Association and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.