What does it mean to be among the 10 organizations awarded by the European Agency for excellence in best practices as a healthy workplace?
It is great honor to receive such a valuable award, and to be recognized by European Agency for Safety and Health at Work for ours dedicated work. We hope that our teams work will be a useful tool for other organizations challenging similar issues.
What were the risk factors that were observed?
fishing nets operator’s work process was monitored, and the force applied during the operation by hand has been measured. A resisting load is experienced by employees was reaching hand force of 20-30 kg in the final tensile cycle, the resisting force mainly is applied to the right-hand shoulder’s muscles. The operators perform around 1,800 such movements per shift and in some cases can experience an even greater resisting force. In 2019, the company recorded three accidents when employees suffered shoulder muscle and joint sprains. It also observed staff turnover. Therefore, as the fundamental work process cannot be changed, attention was focused on employee’s training in sewing techniques as well as staff rotation from one workplace to another to prevent MSDs.
During the risk assessment process, physiotherapists were consulted, what conclusions did you obtain in this regard, on the other hand, what impact did the ergonomics training have on employees?
After consulting physiotherapists number of preventive measures was found. One of them is ground management team and employees themselves can react to employee’s muscle fatigue. The disadvantage of this method is human factor, that people react differently to physical fatigues. However employees always have a chance to change the workplace to different level of physical difficulty or just to slow down the phase of work so they can avoid physical stress or injuries.
Consultation with physiotherapists concluded that during the physical work operators used only the one arm’s muscles, but not the muscles of the back, chest, waist and legs. It was also found that the standing and sitting postures needed to be improved, the height of the workplace required attention and there was a lack of awareness about the importance of correctly setting up workstations to avoid the muscle and joint injuries.
Consulting with physiotherapists emphasizes the importance of knowing correct working methods to reduce the load on the body. Other working methods must be explained to protect the wrist, hands and elbow joints, in particular working with a neutral wrist position, to pull the thread using the force of the whole body’s muscles.
The need for training was recognized not only for workers but team leaders as well so the correct posture and movement of employees can be maintained effectively.
As well has been identified need for physio exercises before the start of the work shifts to warm up the whole body muscles and joints.
From the company, a personal trainer was incorporated to support employees, what results were achieved with this action?
experienced employees effectively communicate data regarding risks and hazards to newcomers during on-the-job training. This practice makes everyone within the company to be informed, and to know how to work correctly. Trainees monitoring newcomers and correcting immediately if operator is working in a non-ergonomic manner.
Do you consider that the ergonomics training and the physical exercise were key to lightening the loads?
The key success of the minimizing ergonomic risks at work are every level staff involvement and understanding the need for ergonomics and lighten the loads within the company.
Must be emphasized the involvement of the head management in the health and safety emerged issues, as workplace ergonomic issues cannot be solved without. Highest level management by paying attention to appearing problems can timely, effectively contribute towards successful decision making and devote financial engagement.
Also every employee engagement is vital by understanding the risks existence and the need of proper health and safety fulfilment at every aspect, level and subdivision.
What new projects are you working on to promote health and safety for employees?
Currently we are looking into possibilities of testing exoskeletons in work environment. It is important to consider aging of the population among EU states. Therefore, any measures to ensure that workload is bearable to older age employees. This could give organization an edge in competing for workforce within the region.