May 25, 2004

Return-to-work programs benefit by ergonomics

Ergonomics Today features an article on how ergonomics is an important tool in a successful return-to-work program.

"According to Sheryl Ulin, Ph. D., CPE, Senior Research Associate Engineer at The University of Michigan's Center for Ergonomics, applying ergonomics principals to return-to-work can help the injured worker return to a more productive state more quickly. The key, she says, is starting with an analysis that takes into account both worker and workplace. ... Ulin's experience shows that a successful return-to-work program incorporates worker, doctor and ergonomist. "If the medical professional writes specific restrictions, we may be able to look at other available positions and determine that [a different job] doesn't have the [restricted] work-related risk factors," she says. Even in situations where returning the worker to his or her former position is impractical, "we can still accommodate the worker," says Ulin.

The article goes on to reference the experience of Dr. Barton Margoshes, Chief Medical Officer of CIGNA:

"Margoshes likes to try to get an injured worker back into his or her old job if at all possible. To do this, ergonomics is not only the key to workspace assessment, it also becomes an important factor in redesigning the workspace. "It's not so easy to put people into another job," says Margoshes. "In our case management, we do everything we can to help individuals return to their old jobs at their same employer. Unfortunately employers on their own don't always think about how to modify the workplace ergonomically. We work with employer and employee to try to figure out how to adapt the workplace to make it fit," he says.

Additional resources:
Cigna's Return to Work programs
The University of Michigan's Center for Ergonomics
Essentials of an Occupational Ergonomics Program

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This page contains a single entry by Julie Ferguson published on May 25, 2004 1:48 AM.

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