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Kaizen Events: Changing Your Work Environment to Reduce Injuries

Posted by Jeff Smagacz on January 3, 2018 at 10:36 AM

Finding good workers is half the battle — you also need to keep them healthy and productive. Today, around 20% of days of missed work are due to sprains and strains that happen as a result of poor workplace design. Companies and public sector organizations that consider their employees' work environment and how it can affect health and efficiency — known as ergonomics — can potentially reduce workplace injuries.

Most organizations see the frequency of ergonomic-related injuries and costs grow each year. But the simple fact is that people need to perform physical work, whether at a factory, store, warehouse, school campus or an office. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for one-third of worker injuries and illnesses annually and ergonomics-related injuries require more time off than other workplace injuries and illnesses.

OSHA and Liberty Mutual also found that overexertion injuries — lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying or throwing — cost businesses $13.8 billion every year.

Additionally, an estimate of the total economic burden of serious, nonfatal workplace injuries as measured by workers’ compensation costs is nearly $60 billion.

Turning Losses Into a Win-Win

Creating operations based on good design that benefits the entire workforce is an easier solution than you might think. One effective way to do this is through a continuous improvement method known as a kaizen event.

Kaizen is a Japanese word that means “good change.” These events help make employees’ jobs safer and more efficient through the study of their work activities and small, simple improvements in their environment. The focus is on immediate action rather than longer-term, costly alternatives.

During a Kaizen event, small teams of operators and maintenance employees make and implement recommendations to improve a process. These teams support and continue the process even after the event is over. Because operators know the process, work the process and are involved in any changes to the process, there is tremendous buy-in and ownership of all improvements.

Daily and Long-Term Improvements

Kaizen events can help reduce your total cost of risk and your ergonomic-injury costs while boosting your bottom line and productivity. While there are numerous ways to tackle ergonomic-related injuries, a kaizen event is a simple and effective approach that enables employees to improve safety and efficiency. When conducted regularly in conjunction with other casualty risk reduction programs, kaizen events can help your organization achieve safety excellence.