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Ergonomics for Fire and EMS Departments Command Staff Ergonomics
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  1. Ergonomics for Fire and EMS DepartmentsCommand Staff Ergonomics University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center This material has been made possible by a grant from the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division, Department of Consumer and Business Services

  2. Today’s Workshop Will provide information on: • Cumulative Trauma • Risk factors for musculoskeletal injury • Elements of an ergonomics program • Information resources for developing an ergonomics program in your department

  3. Fire and EMS Work Requires workers to: • Always be prepared • Respond quickly • Think and react quickly • Not always be in control of schedule • Work in hazardous situations Physically & Emotionally Demanding

  4. Cost of Injury • 31.4 % of firefighter injuries due to overexertion • Overexertion is due to pushing, pulling, holding, carrying, wielding or throwing objects • Per claim, average workers’ compensation cost of ALLinjuries to firefighters = $5168 • Per claim, workers’ compensation average cost for overexertion = $9715 • Of this $9715, only $3458 was for direct medical costs

  5. Avoidable Injuries Acute injuries • Happen immediately • Can become chronic • Re-injury possible • Chronic injuries • Pain or symptoms lasting more • than a month • Cumulative trauma • Happens over time

  6. Cumulative Trauma Cycle Activity microtrauma (small tears) irritation to tissue produces scar tissue Keeps repeating as long as activity continues • results in: •  flexibility •  strength •  function adhesions form adhesions coalesce

  7. Repetitive Motions injury time injury time Same posture or motions again and again • Repetitive motion can be very frequent over short period of time • Cumulative traumacan be less frequent but repeated over time

  8. Break the Injury Cycle Fatigue Discomfort Pain Injury re-injury may be likely Disability

  9. Disc Herniations • Disc damage is frequently the result of cumulative, repetitive trauma as well as overexertion • Outer disc fibers repeatedly tear and heal as a result of repetitive overloading • The disc weakens overtime (years) leading to herniation of the nucleus, causing back and leg pain, and numbness

  10. What is Ergonomics? Worker Task/job Environment The goal of ergonomics is todesign the job to fit the worker, NOT fit the worker to the job.

  11. Musculoskeletal Risk Factors • Excessive force/weight (pulling, pushing or lifting) • Awkward postures • Prolonged postures • Repetition • Temperature extremes Risk magnitude is increased by time, intensity, orcombining factors


  13. Ergonomics Program Elements • Assessment of musculoskeletal hazards • Prevention and control of musculoskeletal hazards • Training • A medical management system • Procedures for reporting injuries • A plan for the implementation of the program • Methods for evaluating the program

  14. 1) Assessment of Hazards • A hazard analysis breaks a job down into elements which can be described and measured • It allows the inherent risk to be quantified • It identifies the conditions within a job that contribute to risk • It is performed by person with • ergonomics training • Safety committee members • Line personnel

  15. When to do a Hazard Assessment Identify jobs where: • Work-related injuries have occurred previously • Frequent severe or non-severe injuries occur • Past injuries result in work restrictions • Workers leave because of inability to perform the physical requirements of job • Sustainable quality performance difficult • Worker complaints of unresolving pain or fatigue

  16. Prevention and Control • Set short term and long term goals • Think outside the box – come up with many potential solutions • Decide on the optimal solution by considering • Barriers • Costs • Amount of risk reduced Line personnel think of great solutions!

  17. Ergonomic Solutions Personal control Effectiveness Equipment or Engineering Job organization Personal protective equipment Bodymechanics

  18. 3) Ergonomics Training • Part of an ergonomics program is to provide training to fire and EMS personnel • Ergonomics training curriculum is free from Oregon OSHA. Modules include: • “Introduction to Ergonomics and Cumulative Trauma” • “Job Hazard Analysis” • “Developing and Implementing Ergonomic Solutions” • “Bodymechanics & Back Health”

  19. 4) Medical Management System Preventive Measures: • Regular medical exams • Regular physical conditioning • Periodic fitness/wellness evaluations • Education/training Reactive Measures: • Early recognition and treatment • Access to medical and rehabilitative care • Alterative work • Workers’ compensation

  20. 5) Injury Reporting System • Define what constitutes a ‘reportable injury’ • Not reporting may lead to more serious injuries • Minor injury logs • Mechanism to report injuries • Identify lines of responsibility worker safety committee medical provider employer

  21. Reporting Injuries • Train personnel • Ergonomics • Record keeping • Record keeping • Clearly identify injury cause • Differentiate between acute and repetitive • Follow-up • Feedback into the ergonomics program • Identify and address hazard

  22. 6) Implementing Your Program Gaining Support • Part of existing safety and health program • Management commitment • Worker involvement • Union involvement • Awareness and education

  23. Commitment & Involvement • Support from department, local government, community and line personnel essential • Launch kick-off meeting by chief to explain program • Establish ergonomics committee • Establish lines of communication & responsibility • Commit resources – time and money

  24. Ergonomics Committee • Set short-term and long-term goals • Identify useful tools and resources • Develop ergonomic awareness • Identify & modify high risk activities via • Risk assessments • Surveys • Injury-records • Make necessary changes to work environment

  25. 7) Evaluating Your Program How do you know what is working? Statistics Health Program General Cost / Benefit Analysis

  26. Statistics Health: reduction in • injury rate, severity • costs (overhead, medical, worker’s comp) • time loss Program:numbers of • hazards identified • solutions proposed • solutions approved • solutions implemented General:having • appropriate equipment • improved work environment • improved work practices • boosted morale • healthier relations

  27. Cost/Benefit Analysis Implementing the program Pre-program injury costs Injury costs with program

  28. Ergonomic Resources FEMA: Fire and EMS Ergonomics search for “ergonomics” National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Elements of Ergonomics Programs & Guide to Evaluating the Effectiveness of Strategies for Preventing Work Injuries Oregon OSHA Federal OSHA

  29. Conclusions • Cumulative trauma occurs over time • Applying ergonomics = injury prevention = $$ saved • An ergonomics program is a comprehensive approach at applying ergonomics • Command staff are integral to a successful ergonomics program

  30. ? ? ? ? Questions and Evaluation Thank you for your attention