According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2018. Those injuries, as we know, can hurt the bottom line. One local company, Fargo Ergonomics, is working to prevent those injuries from even happening in the first place.
Crystal Nelson, Occupational Therapist and Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist, opened Fargo Ergonomics in 2016 with the goal of treating and preventing workplace injuries. Nelson offers a wide variety of services to accomplish this, but there are two main things that you may want to know about:
1. Ergonomic Assessments
One of Nelson’s main services she offers is an ergonomic assessment. Nelson will conduct an ergonomic assessment for two different reasons with the most popular being the employer’s ability to access North Dakota Workforce Safety and Insurance’s Ergonomic Initiative Grant which provides employers resources, including financial assistance, to address ergonomic issues.
Safety and Insurance’s Ergonomic Initiative Grant can range anywhere from $5,000-$50,000, depending on premiums. Once a grant amount is approved, WSI provides financial assistance for 75 percent of ergonomic fees and employers pay the other 25 percent.
Companies looking to reduce their risk of injury and take advantage of the grant program can apply online at workforcesafety.com and can choose a provider, such as Nelson, to complete an ergonomic assessment which will help determine their company’s need for ergonomic equipment. Nelson will also make equipment recommendations during the assessment, along with instructions for correct positioning and placement of current items.
Also, for companies that have already used the program and it’s grant dollars, they also qualify for education and training by an approved provider like Nelson which is covered completely by WSI, once an approved number of hours has been submitted.
“I am able to provide in-services and training on-site to reduce work-related injuries,” said Nelson.
The second most common reason for an ergonomic assessment is to address an employee who is complaining of problems at their work station. Nelson will then work to help the employee out with their situation.
“Some companies have me come in during the orientation process,” said Nelson. “So, when companies are going through their training I’ll come in and fit them up with a desk, an office chair and monitor, those sorts of things. To make sure they’re getting a start on the right foot.”
Nelson does not sell ergonomic equipment herself, meaning her advice is in the best interest of her clients. Every recommendation for the equipment also comes with a good, better or best option to fit everyone’s budget. Explanations for why each item would be beneficial for each client is provided to further help all involved understand the process.
“Our number one goal is to provide quality services in order to reduce the number of work-related injuries which will help workers feel happier and healthier,” said Nelson. “And, help companies prosper and grow.”
2. Post-Offer Employment Testing
The second crucial service that Nelson offers in terms of injury prevention in the workplace is Post-Offer Employment Testing. This option tests whether an employee can perform the physical demands of the job in a safe manner. If companies are interested in applying this type of testing to their hiring process, Nelson works with them by doing a free functional job analysis to determine the required physical requirements for a given occupation.
After Nelson figures out what is physically required for each given position, Nelson will then be able to take each person that is hired at that position through a series of tasks to see if they are able to meet the required physical demands.
“Areas that I look at when I do post-offer employment testing include safely lifting a specific amount of weight, ladder climbing, stair climbing, kneeling, crouching, grasping, pinching and more,” said Nelson.”
If interested in working with Nelson, visit fargoergo.com, email [email protected] or call 701-532-2222.