By focusing on ergonomics, companies see healthier employees and better bottom line
JANESVILLE — Prevention is often touted as the best medicine, and the occupational therapists at the Mercy Occupational Conditioning Center in Janesville tend to agree.
At its root, occupational therapy usually involves a therapist analyzing and observing a work environment and/or routine in order to ensure that employees are working and completing tasks in a healthy way.
“Many companies are proactive with this, because the work-injury side of this can be expensive,” said Laurie Weber-Schwartzenberger, an occupational therapy/OCC team lead with Mercy Health System. “The clinic at Mercy has been there for 20 years.”
Mercy’s OCC has a staff of four therapists, and services are offered at the clinic and at work locations.
“It can be anywhere from one day, five hours, to every day,” Weber-Schwartzenberger said.
As for prevention, Mercy OCC offers services like muscular-skeletal screening and ergonomic analysis — fitting a work-station to a specific employee’s body and needs, whether in a cubicle or on an assembly line.
“The therapists have specific training in ergonomics,” Weber-Schwartzenberger said.
If a work-station is improperly fitted to an employee, repetitive injury is more likely. Activities like reaching up, lifting and repetitive grasping put employees especially at risk.
“It’s a huge cost savings if you can get to those kinds of injuries early,” she said.
For that reason, some companies are doing things like using occupational therapists.
Read the full story in the Jan. 3, 2010 e-edition of The Janesville Messenger. Turn to PAGE 8..