Intelex Technologies Inc.

Preparing your EHS program for the recovering economy

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Intelex Technologies Inc.

As 2009 progresses into its second half some are beginning to see a beam of light developing at the end of the tunnel for the economic climate of the corporate world. With budgets tightened and staffs lightened, doing more with less has become a practice that many organizations have been adapting to lately, but when the economy does begin to generate some speed again will things resume back to normal? James Mallon, VP of Humantech, Inc., the US’s largest workplace ergonomics consulting firm and author of a recent article featured in EHS Magazine entitled “Good Ergonomics is Good Economics,” thinks that it will likely not be back business as usual. In his article Mallon sheds some light on the topic of EHS programs in the midst of the changes the declining economy has had on many organizations and the overall importance they have to a business’s success.

Mallon suggests that there is a new reality within the corporate world in that all programs and investments that an organization takes on will be scrutinized much more than in the past as to their impact on the business and their return on investment. He believes EHS programs are a critical element to an organization’s success and as is the case now with any program to be considered for implementation, we must be able to demonstrate the value they have to the organization. There are definitely some challenges that EHS professionals are facing as we begin to crawl out from the recession. Some of the obstacles that Mallon identifies include the state of most EHS programs having gone into maintenance mode, been stalled or even suspended, workplace equipment having not received improvements or upgrades as needed in 2009, and the reduction of work force resulting in a greater percentage of aging employees due to both the role seniority plays in cutbacks and retirement delays.

So when the economy recovers and production begins to increase again will organizations be able to pick up right where they left off? And to what effect will the recent changes they have made have on the rate of EHS incidents and the costs associated with them? Mallon suggests that along with these challenges comes an opportunity to bring health and safety into focus and create programs that attract top caliber workers keeping them healthy and productive throughout their career. According to Mallon, ergonomics is key to accomplishing this. In what he coins “The Punishing Workplace,” employees are being demanded to exert more power than the human muscles and joints can give resulting in injuries and a reduced rate of productivity. The number one cause of workplace injuries, according to the most recent Workplace Safety Index produced by Liberty Mutual, was overexertion (lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, etc.) accounting for 25.7 percent of worker’s compensation costs to US businesses. As Mallon states, “The link between injury and illness rates and company performances is strong. Quality suffers when worker efforts are great; productivity suffers when a worker’s body positions are awkward and employee engagement suffers when pain is in the workplace.” With this in mind it becomes evident that ergonomics does hold a particularly important place within the development and maintenance of an effective EHS program. By designing tasks, tools and the workplace to support human capabilities, employees will be able to achieve top performance and reduce injuries and the costs associated with them. As Mallon cleverly titled his article, “Good Ergonomics IS Good Economics.”

Safety Management Systems such as the one offered by Intelex Technologies provide a web-based platform to manage your entire organization’s health and safety program from top to bottom that is efficient, effective and easy to use and implement.

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