As a Beacon Mutual policyholder, will I be charged a fee for any ergonomic services?

No. Beacon provides all of its ergonomic services free to all current policyholders.

As a Beacon Mutual policyholder, how do I request ergonomic services?

Employers – If your company has an assigned a loss prevention representative, please contact them directly to request any ergonomic or other loss prevention service. If you are a new policyholder or have not previously been assigned a loss prevention representative, please CONTACT US to request further information.

Workers – Contact your company’s Human Resources Department.

Who Performs Ergonomic Services?

The Beacon Mutual Loss Prevention Department currently staffs certified ergonomic specialists, each with the knowledge and experience, to help your business reach its operational goals.

I have a small company. Does Beacon require a minimum number of employees for an onsite ergonomic training program?

Yes. Beacon Mutual provides training to most any size company. If your company is looking to train a large number of employees, our trainers may ask your company to commit up to 20-25 employees per session. Larger class sizes allow for more interaction between the trainers and attendees and reduce operational downtime while the employees are participating in the training.

Is there a standard or regulation that limits how much weight my employees can lift?

No. There is currently no workplace standard or regulation that restricts or limits the maximum amount of weight an individual employee can lift. In 1991, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) developed a lifting equation in an attempt to assist employers with reducing the risk of lift-related musculoskeletal injuries. Visit NIOSH for additional information.

Should I give my material handlers back belts?

No. Though back belts keep low back muscles warm and encourage proper posture while lifting, they do not decrease the forces responsible for low back injury. They can promote a false sense of security and in general should not be considered a piece of personal protective equipment.

NIOSH Back Belt Summary: “After a review of the scientific literature, NIOSH has concluded that, because of limitations of the studies that have analyzed workplace use of back belts, the results cannot be used to either support or refute the effectiveness of back belts in injury reduction. Although back belts are being bought and sold under the premise that they reduce the risk of back injury, there is insufficient scientific evidence that they actually deliver what is promised.

The Institute, therefore, does not recommend the use of back belts to prevent injuries among workers who have never been injured.* If you or your workers are wearing back belts as protective equipment against back injury, you should be aware of the lack of scientific evidence supporting their use.” Visit NIOSH for additional information.

Are there any standards that limit the amount of weight a worker can lift at work?

No. There are currently no standards that regulate or set maximum limits on lifting. It is up to each employer to determine what works best for the type of work performed. NIOSH has a complex equation that can be utilized as a guide.

What is the best approach to addressing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in nursing staff associated with patient handling?

Although safe patient handling training has been the most frequently used approach in the past to help RNs and CNAs, the true solution lies in a step-by-step process involving a facility cultural change, customized task analyses, and utilization of safe patient handling devices. Beacon has developed guidelines for safe patient handling to address these exposures in health care facilities.

If my company already has a traditional safety program, why do we need an ergonomics program as well?

Traditional safety programs typically address acute injury events such as slips and falls, lacerations or chemical exposures. The process of ergonomics identifies and reduces risks associated with repetitive stress and overexertion. Jobs or working conditions presenting multiple risk factors will have a higher probability of causing a musculoskeletal problem. A Beacon ergonomic specialist will help identify your company’s ergonomic risks and how to best reduce or eliminate them by implementing engineering and/or administrative controls.

If my company participates in an ergonomic workstation analysis or consultation, what can I expect as a follow up?

All loss prevention service visits including ergonomics consultations, analysis and training are followed up with a written report detailing the nature and results of the visit along with any supporting research, resources and suggestions for corrective action.

Do all of my computer workstations need keyboard trays?

No, not necessarily. Adjustable keyboard trays allow for employees of all statures to maintain neutral posture while performing computer tasks. The goal is to keep the keypad approximately one inch below seated elbow height. For some employees desk height meets this recommendation. The adjustable keyboard tray allows all workstations to meet the recommendation.

If I am not a current policyholder, can my company contract with Beacon Mutual to receive ergonomic services?

Yes. Beacon Mutual can “unbundle” their loss prevention services and ergonomic consultation, analysis, and training to non-policyholders for a contract fee. For more information please CONTACT US.

Is there an Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) General Industry Ergonomics Standard?

No. OSHA does not currently have a 1910 standard for Ergonomics. Ergonomic-related issues for most industries are generally cited under the General Duty Clause. OSHA has developed some industry-specific guidelines as an outreach training tool to aid in the reduction and prevention of workplace ergonomic injuries. These guidelines are a major part of OSHA’s four-pronged approach to ergonomics. The guidelines currently in place are: Poultry Processing Industry, Shipyard Industry, Retail Grocery Industry, Nursing Home Industry, and the Meatpacking Industry. Read OSHA’s Ergonomic Guidelines for more information.

Should I worry about my workers being exposed to vibration from tools or machinery?

The simple answer is yes. Vibration is considered a secondary ergonomic risk factor and has been associated with an increased risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) or disorders such as Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). Common sources of vibration come from machines and long periods of driving due to road vibration to both the back and hands. Studies have shown occupations such as forestry workers, stone drillers, stone cutters or carvers, shipyard workers, and long haul truck drivers are at high risk for developing MSD or HAVS symptoms.

Is there legislation in Rhode Island for safe patient handling?

Yes, the State of Rhode Island adopted the Safe Patient Handling Act that regulates safe patient handling in hospitals and nursing homes. The responsibility of enforcement lies with the Rhode Island Department of Health Facilities Management. Beacon can assist your facility with the key components of the Act by helping to develop written policies on the safe movement of patients, for example: patient assessment, equipment, and patient matrix. We will assist in developing and maintaining a safe patient handling committee and provide training and education to the staff using our Caregiver Training Program. For additional information on safe patient handling, please visit CDC/NIOSH – Safe Patient Movement, OSHA Ergonomic Guidelines for Nursing Homes, and American Nurses Association – Handle with Care Campaign.