Material handling workers and truck drivers are particularly susceptible to back and shoulder injuries, a circumstance that leads to higher costs for healthcare and workers' compensation. Dennis Downing, CEO of Future Industrial Technologies, says his company's BackSafe training program dramatically decreases these costs and improves the quality of workers' lives, both on and off the job.
"Back injuries are a problem that management has never really been able to address," he says. "If you look at workers' compensation costs, 98 percent of the money is spent on claims and only 2 percent is spent on prevention. When we go in and train employees and get them to buy in, the workers enjoy better health and the company gets reductions in these costs."
A materials handling environment, even an automated one, is rife with hazards, Downing says. "Not only do workers have repetitious movements, but they deal with heavy weights and different sized boxes. Also, they stand on a hard slab, which can impact hamstring muscles and the lower back. So there is tremendous potential for cumulative trauma - stresses that build up over time."
BackSafe customizes training specifically for each work site and sends trainers to the site to conduct two-hour training events. "We teach employees to perform movements the right way so that they actually feel the change in their bodies," he says. "This enables employees to understand how to change and control physical stresses, at home and on the job. When we get employees to buy-in, we know the company will have a very high ROI due to fewer injuries and lower costs," says Downing. Companies often see reductions of 70 percent in workers' compensation costs alone, he says, citing one client whose costs went from $1.4m to $80,000.
Video training "absolutely doesn't work" because it lacks this hands-on feature, he says. "The key to our training is that it is practical in nature."
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