This article originally appeared in Occupational Health & Safety
Black Friday and Cyber Monday might still be a couple of months away, but shipping and retail companies are already starting to prepare for the influx of orders and deliveries that they will fulfill this holiday shopping season. Companies like UPS, Target and Amazon have announced their hiring plans to add hundreds of thousands of seasonal employees. With the unemployment rate still hovering around 4 percent, it’s more important than ever to invest in retaining employees and reducing lost time to ensure that your operational goals are met this holiday season.
As more inexperienced employees rush to fulfill consumer demands, many companies will experience a spike in musculoskeletal injuries caused by repetitive motions like picking and packing, lowering, lifting, carrying, stepping, and bending. This can significantly hinder operational efficiency, and in many cases, the employee’s ability to continue to work.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that one-third of the non-fatal injuries involving days away from work were incurred by workers with less than one year of service, and nearly one-quarter of those cases resulted in 31 or more days away from work. This is, in large part, because many companies don’t know how to prepare them for the physically demanding work that they are asked to do.
It is imperative to teach employees the fundamentals of proper movement. To keep your workers safe and operating at maximum efficiency this holiday season, consider these strategies:
#1) Teach Proper Movement Tailored to Job-Specific Tasks
The way that we move, the way that we use our bodies, the way that we interact with our environments, is going to impact whether or not someone gets hurt. There’s an infinite number of tasks and situations that a person will encounter every day. So simply engineering the environment around them is never going to be enough. The human body is an amazing machine. If you focus on training the human, then it doesn’t matter how many new situations or environments they encounter because they can move through them correctly and avoid getting injured.
#2) Train Workers to Build Safe Habits over Time
According to NASA, it takes 30 days to create a habit and just as long to lose one. Top-performing athletes train constantly so that when it’s time for them to perform under pressure, they can do so subconsciously. They have to use their body correctly all the time, every time, if they’re going to win. Your goal should be to instill this same behavior in workers before they develop bad habits out of high-risk behavior.
#3) Learning to Move While on the Move
How do you keep the hundreds of thousands of workers delivering packages from developing a musculoskeletal injury? Make your content easily accessible and deliverable in a consistent manner. Micro-learning courses can be accessed via any internet-enabled device, whether that’s an in-cab tablet, a desktop or a mobile phone, enabling workers to practice safe movements wherever they are with minimal impact on operations.
The pressure to meet seasonal goals affects both new and current workers alike. During a time where companies are offering bonus incentives, higher pay and even tuition reimbursement to attract and retain seasonal workers, employers need to invest in injury prevention programs that teach workers how to move properly so that they can keep their workers happy, pain-free and highly productive.
Wondering how you can prevent workplace injuries on your team? Check out: Why Ergonomics is Not Enough
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John Leo Post is the co-founder and vice president of product for Worklete, a technology platform that reduces musculoskeletal injuries by 53% on average. A renowned movement expert, John has coached with some of the top minds in athletic training, human movement and behavioral psychology, including gold medalists, CrossFit champions, and professional athletes. He is driven by the mission to make quality movement accessible to all and empower humans to live pain-free lives.