Efficient production, safety and being healthy at the workplace are necessary in order for a firm to operate efficiently and at its maximum potential.
Ergonomics is an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Karla Karvelas, physical therapy manager at Summit Urgent Care and Occupational Medicine in Newnan, was the featured speaker at the March 21 meeting of the Coweta County Safety Council, which was held in the Sage Café at The Summit in Newnan.
The Coweta County Safety Council was founded through the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce to make sure local businesses are leading the way in keeping employees safe and preparing for natural disasters and unexpected emergencies, according to the chamber website.
The group meets the third Tuesday each month, usually at the Summit on Highway 34 in Newnan. The group is open to safety-conscious businesses and there is no cost to attend.
Karvelas has been in the health and wellness industry for more than 20 years, teaching others how to maximize their health by means of preventative medicine such as exercise, stress management, body ergonomic training in workplaces and physical and cardiac rehabilitation. She is a graduate of the University of Florida with a degree in exercise physiology.
Karvelas spoke about workplace ergonomics and focused on the prevention of musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) – an injury, damage or disorder of the joints.
These types of injuries accounted for 380,600, or one-third, of days-away-from-work cases, according to msdsonline.com, an environment, health and safety software company, and Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2013. Industries with the highest incidence rates included transportation and warehousing, health care, entertainment/recreation, agriculture, construction and manufacturing.
The bureau’s data also shows that workers suffering from ergonomics-related injuries required more time off the job than those with other types of workplace injuries and illnesses (a median of 11 days versus eight days).
Statistics from OSHA revealed that related workers’ compensation expenses cost businesses $15 to $20 billion each year. The Institute of Medicine estimates that the total annual economic burden resulting from workplace MSDs adds up to $45 to $54 billion.
“Stretching and taking mini rest breaks are great ways for workers to avoid MSD injuries,” Karvelas said.
She also talked about the importance of having a properly arranged workstation, such as having a table at the correct height. She shared how one company even had employees rotate job positions, performing a sitting task for a couple of weeks and then a standing task for the same period of time.
Karvelas shared some simple stretches with the group and told everyone it's important to constantly educate and remind workers to have good form.
"Our bodies weren't made to stay in one position," she said. "They were made to move."
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(Special to The Newnan Times-Herald from the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce. Kandice Bell contributed to this article.)