Boeing ergonomics engineer Chris Reid was in his 20s, still learning the basics of his discipline, when he realized his father Robert was bringing his work home with him in a very negative way. Working in Palm Beach Country as a landscaper for the parks and recreation department and nights moving boxes for UPS at the airport took their toll and led to issues Robert still deals with today at 63.
“I started to connect the dots from all those years before and recognize that the origins of his chronic pain were due to ergonomic risk factors,” says Reid, who recalls days where his father felt too exhausted and sore to do anything but lay down after work.
Now every day he is tasked with connecting dots to uncover the cause of workers’ injuries and identifying potential unsafe practices that could affect up to 30,000 to 40,000 Boeing manufacturing workers.
A big part of that is finding a way to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders, such as tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, or severe back strains. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says these account for one-third of all non-fatal workplace injuries and estimates MSDs require "a median of 11 days away from work to recover." A rotator cuff surgery, which range anywhere from $8,400 to $56,200 could take out a worker for seven months.
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