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MEMIC Safety Experts
54 minutes | 12 days ago
Implementing Proper Fall Protection with David Kozlowsky
Falls in the workplace are one of the leading causes of serious injuries and fatalities. Citations around the OSHA standards for fall protection have made the top 10 most frequently cited OSHA standards for the last decade. Fall hazard exposures exist in almost every industry and finding the right fall protection solution for your situation is not always easy. There are many factors that should go into making the right choice. On this episode of the MEMIC Safety Experts Podcast, I speak with David Kozlowsky, President and Owner of Safe Approach in Poland, Maine about his company and the approach they take with fall protection and prevention. Peter Koch: [00:00:04] Hello, listeners, and welcome to the MEMIC Safety Experts podcast, I'm your host, Peter Koch, five thousand four hundred and twenty four. According to a February twenty sixth article in Safety and Health, that's the number of violations or citations in 2020 alone for the OSHA Fall Protection General Requirement standard for construction. And that standard sits at the top of the OSHA top 10 most frequently cited standards for the last 10 years, believe it or not. And if you looked at all the other fall protection related citations listed on the OSHA top 10 like scaffolding ladders and the fall protection training citations, you would get nearly 12000 citations related to fall protection alone for the year 2020. And if we look at beyond citations and look at injuries and how they affect people. Falls, even if you exclude falls on [00:01:00] the same level and just falls from one level to another, so falls from a height. That's one of the leading causes for serious injury and fatalities in the workplace. There are fall hazards in almost every industry or business. And personally, whether it's scaffolding, ladders, anchors, personal fall arrest systems, rope access or rescue. Fall protection training and education make up a huge part of what I do with the businesses that I work with. Well, we wanted to bring on an expert in fall protection to the podcast. So on the line with me today is David Kozlowsky, president and owner of Safe Approach in Poland, Maine. So led by David Safe Approache's team designs and builds a fall protection equipment and harnesses, anchors and lifelines, everything from that to safety netting and custom fall protection, worksite solutions. So, David, welcome to the podcast today. David Kozlowsky: [00:01:52] Thanks, Peter. Glad to be here. Peter Koch: [00:01:54] Yeah, it's fantastic to have you. You know, I've had the pleasure of working with Safe Approach during my time [00:02:00] here at MEMIC. And the team there has always been able to offer some sage advice, as well as design some custom solutions for a number of the policyholders that I've been working with. I think it's an important part of the story to get a little to know, get to know you a little bit more and about the company, because instead of jumping right into, again, right into the fall protection side of things and why it's important, I think it's important to know what your history is. So why don't you tell us a little bit about your background and the company's background and how you got to where you are today? David Kozlowsky: [00:02:30] Sure. Thanks, Peter. So the company was founded or conceived anyway? I would say right around 1988 ish, the previous owner, Roger, owned a business called Mobile Maintenance, which was kind of like a mobile mill writing maintenance type thing where he would go around to mills or various places and do work on site things that were difficult, either too large or too difficult to actually send out to be repaired. He would go [00:03:00] and had a truck with a lot of machine type tools and stuff and would just go around. And he was actually at a repair job in the town of Lisbon back around 1988ish. And while they were working around an open wet well either he or one of the guys there almost fell in. And so someone made the comment like, oh man, you know, somebody should put a net in this thing or something because it's 30 feet to the, you know, to the pump. And we all know what's at the bottom of a sewage pump station. So to add insult to injury, I guess so here they're like somebody should make a net for this thing or something. And so that's kind of how it was conceived. Incorporated in 1992, brought on some distributors and kind of launched the company from there. So from its very inception, the whole premise of the company was on innovation [00:04:00] and finding ways to help people work safer. As our logo says, sometimes something off the shelf or out of the box just doesn't cut it. And it's easy to have a catalog of, hey, here's my repertoire of harnesses and lanyards or whatever else I sell. But, you know, there's countless different situations that you run into in business where just something out of the box just doesn't cut it. It's not there. And so the company was conceived on that that principle and that concept. And so we've kind of gone from there since 1992. I came on to the company in 1998. I was young. I was twenty five years old. I really didn't know anything about fall protection or anything else, but spent the last 22 years kind of learning my way through it. And I really feel like I'm kind of a [00:05:00]example that the American Dream is still alive. I started at twenty five, I didn't know anything, but I was willing to learn and willing to work and started out in the shop basically getting dirty, working with my hands, learning how to make stuff, and then kind of from there graduated to turning some wrenches in the field and into sales. And then, you know, ultimately at one point basically being the general manager and kind of running the company. And now here I am. Twenty two years later and I own the business. So it's kind of a neat little story. You know, it's still can happen. People say the American dream isn't alive, but it's there. If you're willing to work hard and you're willing to learn and you're willing to pay your dues. And I think a lot of people don't know the term paying your dues anymore. If you're willing to do it, it's still there. You can do it. So here we are. Peter Koch: [00:05:57] Yeah, that's pretty cool because it's a great story when I [00:06:00] kind of think about it, because you back in 88, there weren't a lot of guidelines. I mean, the fall protection standard was there for OSHA and they told you a bunch of stuff. But I think there's a really great connection there where you said not every out-of-the-box solution is going to work every place. And that's a key part that I talked to policyholders all the time about, well, you know, here you're not following the standards for fall protection like you've got a fall protection exposure right there. How come you're not putting something into that? He said, well, the typical harness solution gets in the way or the horizontal lifeline solution that we could get from the Amazon catalog isn't going to work within this particular space or area. And being innovative around those fall protection solutions, I think is a key part. And it's a great way because you really had to understand what your what the exposures were and then what the company [00:07:00] needed. Not safe approach, but the company you're working with, what they needed in order to make the job not only safe but productive. And I mean, David Kozlowsky: [00:07:09] I think you're right, Peter. You have to really understand No. One, what OSHA's just telling you about, what are the regulations, No. One that you have to follow. And coming up with solutions within those regulations can still be out of the box without, you know, going through some of the traditional methods. You know, one of the things that we've worked on a lot is safety netting and safety netting is just one of those things that there's not a lot of stuff written on it. And you can be very creative and still follow the standards and the guidelines in the spirit of the law that they're giving you. That's where the original product came from. The Hatch ness, that was the first thing. I mean, it was taking something that was not traditionally considered a fall item and turning it into something, [00:08:00] testing it and certifying it and turning it into something. And that was in its infancy. I mean, harnessess weren't even body belts weren't outlawed until nineteen ninety six. I mean so back in, you know when I started it's like it was still kind of in its infancy regulatory wise. And so we carried that, you know, that desire to to be innovative and creative and help people find solutions to stuff, you know, all the way through to today. Peter Koch: [00:08:29] And it is funny how you still find some I don't call it older or maybe it's a traditional understanding about fall protection. Like you said, like body belts weren't outlawed until 1996. But you still find him someplace. You'll go different places and you'll still find people that have that particular tool in their toolbox of solutions that they'll put in place somewhere. And it doesn't really fit. So there's a lack of knowledge in some cases out there. I think OSHA has done a great job at educating [00:09:00] the businesses out there about what is appropriate. But it's a passive type of education that people need to want to get it. And in your case, too, I think I find that when someone approaches you, at least when I've worked with safe approach in the past, there's been an exchange of education. Like you're you're looking for information about what the exposures are, what the workplace looks like, where I'm willing to go. And then you're also taking that and educating me about, well, you know, the solution that you might think is going to work isn't going to work for these reasons. And here is how it fits within the standard. So that education about what's good, what's out there, what's functional, and then why is a big part about what makes safe approach pretty special and then how some of their solutions or some of your solutions work well within the workplace? David Kozlowsky: [00:09:55] Well, there's many different levels of education that takes [00:10:00] place when we go on a site visit. You know, as you mentioned, it's not always just, you know, what are the standards and how do I apply them to this situation? You know, and even in today's day and age, there's still a certain amount of education that takes place to get people convinced that they actually need it, that they actually should have it. I mean, I can't tell you how many times I tell people fall protection is like purchasing an insurance policy. It's one of those things that you hope you never need. And you might come to me and say, well, I've worked around this open hatch for 30 years and I've never fallen in. And I would say, well, if I was an auto insurer, you'd be a bad risk because they the numbers show you're going to probably get in an accident at some point. And if you've been here for 30 years and you haven't yet, there's a good chance you're going to. So just educating [00:11:00] people that, you know, you're not necessarily protecting for the everyday mundane tasks you're protecting for that one in a million shot, that one. And, you know, that thing that never could have happened. It just seems like, oh, this was a one in a million chance. But if that's that one time you're around an open hole and you know it's slippery and you get tangled up in a cord and you turn to look at somebody and you're doing three things at once. And next thing you know, you lose your balance and fall in. And you've done it eight thousand times and every time was perfect and you really don't think you need it. But that one time you need it, you want it to be there and educating people that just because you've done it a million times doesn't mean that there's not some value to protecting yourself. Peter Koch: [00:11:50] And that is a really hard lesson for some folks to swallow without having the experience of having been the victim of that particular [00:12:00] scenario. It happens both ways on my end. So I'll go into a company initially and I'll identify uncontrolled fall hazards that companies have and then on the other hand, I'll go in post accidents and do an accident analysis and help them figure out why it occurred, because someone fell because an unidentified fall hazard, something that they didn't actually take care of. If I compare those two experiences and I have the one company that hasn't had an incident occur, whether it's an injury or just a near miss, they're the ones that are typically harder to convince that you need to put a solution in place. But the ones that have had it happen and especially the ones where it's been, unfortunately, a tragedy, they're the ones that really desire a solution. But it's truly unfortunate that that is the impetus behind people being gung ho about putting a force protection solution in. And you [00:13:00] I think you describe it very well. It's like an insurance policy. So if you put it in place and you maintain it and you install it and you educate around it, then that exposure that exists because of the job and there's no other way to manage that risk. You put those fall protection tools in place. Now you're helping to prevent the tragedy from happening and that's that insurance policy. So that's a cool way of thinking about it, really is. David Kozlowsky: [00:13:27] That's exactly right. I mean, that's what we're trying to educate people, is that don't be the guy that calls me because you had somebody fall off something and you already have an injury. It's like let's , you know, work with this ahead of time. But we've had enough. And you can tell when that happens. I mean, there's been multiple times where in the past during our history, you can tell when you've gotten a call from somebody and you know that they had somebody fall there's an you know, an incident and now they're kind of in a panic [00:14:00] to come and, you know, put something in place. And so we just try to educate people to show them that they need it and in some cases show them that just because you opened up, you know, a catalogue and you see someone's, you know, list of harnesses and whatever, that just because you don't see that doesn't mean that there isn't a solution, that there's sometimes creative ways to come in and fix problems. Peter Koch: [00:14:29] Yeah, let's diverge a little bit, I think this would be an interesting time to talk about this particular topic. And let's talk a little bit about the hierarchy of controls and how it can be used to address fall protection, because I think a lot of people and maybe not some of the folks who are listening to this podcast, because, you know, if you're a safety person, if you were in charge of safety for your company, you don't always or you're not going to start at personal protective equipment as the end all be all for your fall [00:15:00] protection solution. But a lot of folks, that's what they jump to. I want a harness. I want a lanyard and I want an anchor. And when I put that in place, I'm good to go. Boom, I've checked the box. I'm safe. And that's not really where we want to start. So let's can you talk a little bit about maybe the hierarchy, like from elimination to engineering and administrative controls to fall protection and how that fits in with your process of coming up with a solution? David Kozlowsky: [00:15:27] Sure. I mean, when we go to a facility or go to look at a situation, you know, the hierarchy is to No. One to try to engineer out the fall to begin with. If you have a situation where there is a fall hazard, you want to try to look for solutions that engineer that out. So maybe it's a guardrail or something of that nature to take a situation where there is not an opportunity for a person to fall. So that would be at the most preferred [00:16:00] level. And you go down from there to kind of what is in the middle we call kind of a restraint type model where, OK, we can't really engineer out the fall. This isn't an application where we can, you know, put up a bunch of guardrails or put something to prevent people. But we could set up maybe some type of restraint system where you could use fall protection or PPE type equipment to prevent somebody from being able to get to the edge. And then finally, the honestly, what should be the last on the list. As you mentioned, a lot of people jump to first, but which should be last on the list, should be actual fall arrest. But then within that, once you've gone to a facility where, OK, we've ruled out the other opportunities. So we can't engineer out the fall. We can't prevent somebody from getting to the edge. We've determined that we actually do need [00:17:00] some type of fall arrest system. I would say we spend the most amount of time working within this kind of subcategory and that's educating people, the limitations of fall arrest and what you can and can't do with it and when it's appropriate to have something or not, you know, it happens all the time. I'll give you one example without naming any company names or anything. But a number of years ago, I was asked to come in and look at a situation where they had some concrete tanks that they were working on, those precast concrete tanks. And so the tanks were not overly large. They were only about seven or eight feet tall and they had to get on the top of these tanks to work on them. And they called us in and said, hey, listen, we've got this building and we want to put a cable up here so we can, you know, tie off while we're on these tanks. And after a rather long discussion, I basically [00:18:00] tried to educate them, say, listen, this isn't the right application. No. One, this building is extremely old. It's barely engineered to the snow load. I'm surprised it hasn't collapsed yet, much less attaching fall protection to the roof. But you're lucky to be maintaining the snow load in this region with this old prefab building. And you want to string a cable between them and you're only going to be eight feet off the floor. And by the time somebody falls off and the cable stretches out in the lanyard stretches out and all this happens, the person is going to hit the floor long before my system even catches you or arrest the fall. This isn't the right application. You need to do this. But that wasn't the cheapest alternative. And, you know, it was it was sad to see them go and purchase a couple of beam clamps and a cable and put it up there so that if anybody walked through, they could look up and say, [00:19:00] oh, see, we have our fall protection it's in place. We're doing what I supposed to be. But it doesn't necessarily mean it's working. And I would say, you know, going through the hierarchy is one thing, but spending time on helping people find something that's proper and works like it's supposed to is where I would definitely say we spend the majority of our time. Peter Koch: [00:19:25] This is one of the reasons why I liked working with you guys in the past, because. You will spend the time to do the education about a particular propered solution or proffered solution and whether or not the company decides to go with you to purchase the solution that you're recommending for them to put in place, you're still going through the process of educating them and why this is a good spot and not just, hey, here it is. This is this is what's going to work for you. Put it in place or don't put it in place. Whatever you want. You really want to see people succeed. And I think [00:20:00] just from having some conversations with you and knowing the team is there's a real desire within safe approach to not have people hit the ground. I mean, you go back to 1988 and Roger and putting that net in place, I mean, the mentality around many places would have been, well, don't get so close to the edge and you won't fall. Right. Not to think about putting a net in place and and building on that. I think that is a philosophy that kind of flows through safe approach that you really you don't want to see anybody hit the deck. So education's part of that. And determining the right solution is part of that. David Kozlowsky: [00:20:39] It's a tough thing to do to walk into a place and not sell somebody something because what they're wanting to do isn't going to work. It's easy to walk in and say, OK, well, I'll take your money. And here, here's a system. And meanwhile, you know, 10 years down the road, somebody [00:21:00] falls and it fails or doesn't work like it's supposed to. I mean, it's a tough thing to do to sometimes go in there and have to tell people that. But the other side of that is that we've been really successful and really good at coming in and helping people find what would work and helping people, you know, come up with solutions that sometimes are a little bit out of the ordinary or out of the box, to use a cliche. But that's you know, we've been really good at that over the years. And I think that's what's helped us succeed, is working with people to come up with those solutions. Peter Koch: [00:21:39] Yeah, for sure. Can you talk a little bit about some of the fall protection challenges that you've seen over the years that you talked about the one with the concrete tanks? I'm sure that there are plenty of other examples that you might be able to share with us. But I think it's important for people to see that, you know, some of the fall protection needs [00:22:00] aren't just on the construction site or aren't just in a heavy industry like oil or mills, but it exists in many different places. It could be hospitality, it could be hotels, it could be office buildings, depending on what you're doing. So could you share some of them? Maybe the fall protection challenges that people have come to you with and maybe some of the solutions that you've been able to offer? David Kozlowsky: [00:22:25] Sure. That's one of the unique things. You're right, Peter, about fall protection is that it really touches so many different industries. I think a lot of times people associate it with construction. So they you know, they just think, oh, here's an iron worker, you know, erecting steel. Well, obviously, he needs fall protection, but it really touches almost every industry. We have customers that range from semiconductor facilities, that make machines that make semiconductors and people think, oh, electronics, [00:23:00]why do you need full protection for that? But, you know, these are big machines, similar to what the concrete tanks were, seven, eight feet tall. They're up there on the top of them. They're building them and they're constructing them. And they're in a room, a clean room maybe where there's limited opportunities for tie off. Where can you connect to, you know, limited space. And so, you know, that's a unique situation where somebody might not expect that there would be a fall situation. But there there was there was a really unique challenge. You had a very low ceiling, very high machines, a clean room, very tight tolerances for space. These machines were packed in here. It's not like you could just be rolling guardrails around the room and, you know, put them up. So on those type of things, the stuff that we we look at, we did a job a couple of years ago for actually the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. They did a dome rehabilitation project and we put in a custom safety [00:24:00] net that was a safety slash work platform that actually that would suspend inside the interstitial space at the dome and allow workers to actually clean the dome. They would actually climb in it and and clean it. So, I mean, there's another example of kind of a unique situation where not many people would think of. Then there was the usual stuff. I mean, even what, you know, maybe we would consider a run of the mill, but not so run of the mill is, you know, even in construction, there's countless times that we run into where we'll have let's take the stanchion, for example, our bridge stanchions sell hundreds of them all over the country with a couple of common dials. One clamps to a steel IBM, one can bolt to concrete. Those are the two most common types of bridge girders, right? Steel and concrete. But, you know, there's we came [00:25:00] up with a solution a number of years ago for we had a contractor that has some kind of oddly shaped box beams that had no flanges on them. They weren't concrete, they were steel, and they had no way to tie off. And honestly, the solution was really something as simple as taking the stanchion that we already had the to connect Lifeline's to, and engineering and building a new kind of base that would have, you know, there would be able to adapt to this type of beam. So it could be anything from a, you know, a unique work situation to even just something as mundane as, hey, we have a different type of connection here. And everything that we've seen on the market doesn't work. And you adapt something that you have to work with this. So those are you know, those are the most common types of things that we run into, Peter Koch: [00:25:53] Again, thinking outside the box, but sort of inside the box. Like, you don't have to design something from scratch, but you can look [00:26:00] at a particular situation, modify what you have in order to fit the application, but still managed to fit it within the standards that you have to meet in order for it to be certified for fall protection. David Kozlowsky: [00:26:15] Sure. Yeah, right. Exactly. Peter Koch: [00:26:18] So that kind of leads to another question here. Like if someone has a fall protection problem like there, listen to this podcast and going, hey, you know, I we've been really lucky over here. And I'll give you an example. We had working with a hospitality organization that had a fairly sizable flat roof space that they had to get up there and shovel all the time here in New England when we when we have snow. So up in northern New England, we still have snow somewhere through the wintertime. And even like this year, snow has been throughout the country. Even Texas had snow this particular year. So the flat roof, they you [00:27:00] know, they didn't really see it as a fall protection hazard because for the most of the time, they were not anywhere near the edge. But the maintenance guys or the people that they hired to help with maintenance were there shoveling the roof off. So they had to be close to that particular edge all the time. And if the company sees an issue like that, they could come to you and say, hey, we need a solution. But I imagine that in your initial conversation with those guys that you need some information that would help you point in a direction for a solution. So if they're listening like, hey, you know, we've got this pretty unique challenge or maybe it's a mundane challenge, we just haven't been able to figure it out. What are some things that you need to know as the solution provider about a situation that would help you get an idea of where you might need to go David Kozlowsky: [00:27:56] There's a short answer and a long answer to that question. And, [00:28:00] we'll stick to somewhat the short answer for the purposes of this show. But the short answer to that is, is there when you when you start to get into this, you find that there really is no set of standard questions that you run into because each situation is is different. And, you know, I would take your example of a rooftop situation and then coming up with a solution to that, we would need to know things like, well, how big is the area that we're trying to cover? Probably the most importantly, how, you know, how many people do you want to put on the roof at one time? Because the solution for well, I want to send one guy up there to shovel off this. You know, this little hippogriff or something is different than, you know, here we have a warehouse facility and I need 30 guys up there shoveling the roof. The solutions are different for those two applications. [00:29:00] So, you know, you would want to know how many people you would have working up there. Unfortunately, you need to know how much those people weigh. That's a question nobody likes to ask. But I'm going to tell you, this comes up more often than anything these days is OSHA's limitations of, you know, the three hundred and ten pounds fall protection. And while we do have gear that's ANSI rated for higher than that, that is an important question that on. Unfortunately, we ask a lot how many people how much do they weigh and then what are they doing, how close to the edge or how close to the fall hazard are they getting? What functions are they performing while they're there? Those are types of generic questions that I think apply to most any situation. And we would do we would start there. Peter Koch: [00:29:52] Yeah, that's a I think it's a good list because it really does hit on all the hits on all the cylinders to getting you thinking about. All right. [00:30:00] So where what potential solution is there? Is it a restraint device? Is it truly a fall arrest system or is it an engineering solution where you can do all those will tend to lead you to one way or the other. And if you don't ask those questions and you just kind of look at through the catalog and like as the business owner going, well, it looks like this might be the solution you might put a solution in that actually adds more hazards than an appropriate solution would. David Kozlowsky: [00:30:32] Yeah, because those questions would lead into other questions once you've established the duties that they're performing and how many people and what they're trying to accomplish, depending on the situation, those questions lead into other questions like, well, how far we've established that, you know, we need some fall protection here. Well, how far could the person fall, you know, talking about the tank situation, if you're [00:31:00] only six feet up, off of a lower level, you know, a horizontal lifeline with a shock absorber lanyard attached to it is probably not the right solution. It might not be the right solution, even if you're 20 feet above a lower level, depending on how you're tying off and what you're doing. So those questions lead into other questions like how far is the fall distance? Are there any hazards below the fall area that we should take into consideration? And then ultimately that leads into which, again, this is way deeper than we probably have time for today. But OK, so they we've engineered a solution and a person fell off. How do we get them down? You have the fall clearance, you have all the gear you need and everything is lined up, except that there's no conceivable way of getting the person down in the amount of time that you have. So you end up saying, OK, we for that reason, we actually [00:32:00] need to engineer out the fall. You can't have someone fall here because you're never going to be able to get them down or get them out, especially in the case of, say, like a confined space entry where there's only one way in and one way out and you don't have the ability for a couple of firefighters to come in with a stretcher and put you on it and carry you out. And so the rescue and retrieval aspect of it is another important thing that we usually would hit on. Again, leading into the basic questions would lead into those depending on the situation. Peter Koch: [00:32:38] Let's take a quick break. In 2018, 320 of the 1008 construction related fatalities were attributed to falls. If you're listening to this podcast before May 3rd, of 2021, then you still have a chance to participate. The eighth annual national safety stand down to prevent falls and construction [00:33:00] is happening from May 3rd through the 7th of this year. If you're listening to it after you still have an opportunity, a safety stand down is a voluntary event asking employers to take a break and talk directly with their teams specifically about safety. The stand down around fall protection asks employers to talk specifically about fall hazards their team is exposed to because fall hazards exist in almost every industry. Think about ladders or roof maintenance and scaffolding. MEMIC is asking that all employers take advantage of the resources offered at www.OSHA.gov/stopfallsStanddown and talk to your team about fall hazards. Even if you're not in the construction business. If you're looking for more fall protection resources to help you educate your staff or inspect your workplace, check out the MEMIC safety director at www.MEMIC.com/WorkplaceSafety. Now [00:34:00] let's get back to today's episode. Peter Koch: [00:34:04] It's a really, really good point about rescue, and it's I think it's something that does not get discussed enough when we talk about fall protection. I had a client a number of years ago where I went to go to his construction client building residential homes, and they were building a house somewhere like, you know, township six, row 11. So, you know, you don't have emergency facilities really close. Like it's going to be an hour before someone can get to you if you call nine one one, if you have reception on that day, like if you're on the wrong side of the house, you're not going to get reception. So we're looking at like three and a half stories on the Walk-In basement side. And they're planning the roof process. And it's like, well, what do you have for full protection of all? We have the typical you know, they've got a rope grab and a vertical lifeline and a temporary roof anchor and which would work fine for most cases. But if he fell working by [00:35:00] himself and he fell and there was any injury at all, he's not coming down until his wife decides that. Well, it's been a little longer than normal. Maybe I should call the bar first and then I should try to find if he's still at the work site. And so from then, like a fall arrest solution was not the solution that we discussed. It was like, you really should get a piece of machinery in here to do the work that you need to do because, you know, you can get a lift up there. Of course, it's going to probably cost you a little bit more. But if you do fall, the result can be tragic and it's not really where you want to be. So that's a it's a great point. I think people miss that that rescue process because they never think that they're going to fall. They just think most of the time that the fall protection solution is there to check the box. And I'm never going to use it. David Kozlowsky: [00:35:48] Yes. This goes back to the insurance thing that we were talking about. Exactly. It's I'm going to check the box. It's here. Yep. I did it. So I'm protected. But you never expect that you're actually going to use it, convincing [00:36:00] people to stop thinking in terms of money, which unfortunately in private industry that I mean, that is a very important topic. You just can't get around that. There's not unlimited budgets for everything. But sometimes the consequences of a fall or a serious injury could be life and death when, you know, maybe spending just a few extra dollars on the right solution or maybe a different solution would possibly prevent that. So you're right. Peter Koch: [00:36:29] Yeah. And I think another part to consider, and I'm not sure if this sort of falls within your wheelhouse within Safe Approach, but training for those people who are going to be using the solution, whether it is an engineered solution and understanding the limitations or a restraint solution or a personal fall arrest solution. So training of those people that are using it is pretty key. I know I've had conversations when I go to companies that are using a fall protection solution, regardless of what it is. [00:37:00] And you talk to the employees and there's a certain level of training that OSHA requires. And I like to think that there should be a certain level of understanding for that individual who is using that so that they understand what box they have to work in David Kozlowsky: [00:37:15] And they should be. And that's one of the things that we that we talk about quite a bit. So part of the survey process is discussing that very thing. And this comes up very often in rooftop safety, as you were talking about earlier. So sure, we spend we spend a very high percentage of our time these days working on rooftop safety. And the certainly the two most common solutions would be some type of guardrail or some type of roof anchor or lifeline or fall arrest type apparatus. And part of the discussion we invariably have is, OK, so there's two different costs to this project. There's [00:38:00] the upfront costs, the initial costs, the capital expenditure of X amount of dollars for a full guardrail system or a roof anchor or a lifeline system. And quite often, you know, the guardrails get overlooked because it's more costly. The capital expenditure is, you know, just more expensive upfront. And people immediately want to go to. Let me just throw a couple of cans up there and cable and call it good. And part of the discussion invariably has to be the training that you were just talking about and telling the customers, say, listen, if you put the guardrails up there on the roof, they're set and forget you go up, you put them up there. You can have unlimited people. You can move around as much as you wish, and you don't have to inspect them and certify them. And there's really no training involved. Whereas if we put fall arrest up there, you're limited to a certain number of people that however many people are allowed to be on the [00:39:00] engineered into that system. You're limited to the weight of the person, because part of the engineering is the weight and the dynamic forces of the fall, you're looking at training for every person that goes up there, because we wouldn't recommend that you allow people to use an active fall arrest system without, you know, having some training and understand what you're doing. You're looking at an annual inspection every year. You're looking at recertification every five years because we don't want to just leave these up there and then hope they're going to work 10 years down the road every five years. You need some type of recertification. So there's all these things that come after the fact that may or may not make it your best solution, even though the cost may be less upfront and the training that's involved in it may be one of those things that might be a limiting factor for you, training all your users and having roof sign off sheets and just covering [00:40:00] yourself and coming up with a rescue plan. Peter Koch: [00:40:03] Yeah, there's a lot more to it, depending on what solution that you have. And you're right, I always look at safety being kind of one of three things that have to get managed within any company. People who have heard this podcast before have heard me talk about it. And it's not nothing new. It's safety, quality and productivity. So you have all three of those things which have to be in balance in order to be a successful company. And I joke all the time. I can make you as safe as you'll never have an injury. You'll never get anything done. Right. So I can put safety first all the time and you'll never have anything else happen because there's you're preventing that person from engaging anywhere near that particular exposure. And the exposure happens to be the job that they need to do. Like, you can't be a sewage technician without going into the hole you can't be a roofer without going up on the roof. So you [00:41:00] have to have a balance in there so that it fits. So you've got to find the solution that fits within that safety, quality and productivity triangle. I think from a different view standpoint is not putting safety at the top of the triangle, like in productivity and quality or at the base. You flip it around and you put that point at the bottom. So safety is the thing that balances productivity and quality. And if you have a good, robust safety program and think about that from the the perspective of the scenario that you just proffered there with the choice of guardrails versus a horizontal lifeline solution that you have for people. Well, the horizontal lifeline solution is good as long as you stay within your productivity demands for what it's designed for, guaranteed you will have productivity, demands that will exceed the design of that system, ike you will need more people up there or you'll have [00:42:00] to have a heavier person that gets up there. Something will exceed the design of it. So if you think about safety as as the base right, the guardrail on that particular piece will balance productivity and quality much better than that horizontal lifeline would. So having that robust safety program really fits within puts you in a better position to have a safe and healthy and productive workplace so. David Kozlowsky: [00:42:25] Well, trying to trying to balance risk with productivity and with investment. I keep talking about the money aspect because it seems like it comes up so often is that, you know, people want to spend money on their businesses that do one of things. They either save them time or save the money in productivity and safety. Let just be honest. Very rarely does either of those things very rarely saves you time on your project or labor. And it certainly doesn't save you money unless, you know, there was a potential [00:43:00] incident down the road. We could talk about opportunity cost for a potential accident. We talk about that all day long. But, you know, up front at least, you know, going back to the whole insurance analogy, you're spending money on something that you hope you never use. And if you're creative and use the term you just did robust with your safety program and you spend, you know, time managing it properly, it really doesn't have to have always that big of an impact on what you do. If you're being creative in spending the time to actually analyse the problem and come up with a creative solution, it doesn't always have to cost a ton of money and it doesn't always have to be so obstructive that it's limiting the job that you do and you're not. There's certain times where it does. I mean, you know, there's times where you just can't get around that. [00:44:00] But that doesn't have to be the norm. And that's partly what. We do we try to come in and listen to customers concerns, listen to the, you know, the task that they're doing, as I mentioned before, and find out who's doing what and where and see what we can do to be as seamless as possible to make it so that with as little impact on productivity and bottom line cost, come in and try to make that person safe. I mean, there is a hierarchy. I mean, let's get back to that briefly. I mean, you know, OSHA never says that there is never allowed to be any risk in a job. Certain jobs have risks. And so it's not practical to take every job that's ever out there and say, oh, there's absolutely zero risk of an injury or zero risk of anything. Even OSHA doesn't realize that otherwise there would be no such thing as fall arrest. Because, you know, quite honestly, sometimes the act of falling and getting caught can injure [00:45:00] you. I mean, there's a possibility that you can get hurt during a fall. So I think if you just manage it effectively, try to engineer out the fall whenever you can and then when you can't spend some time to manage it effectively. And I think you would find that not always does it really affect your productivity and your bottom line as much as you maybe think it does. Peter Koch: [00:45:24] And I think that's a good place to sort of come to a close here, because that is something that is hugely beneficial to going to an expert like yourself to talk through the different solutions and have an idea or get an idea about how a particular solution might actually affect you positively or possibly negatively, instead of just looking through the file protection catalogue and finding the, you know, fall compliance and a bucket in buying that and putting it out there, it might not be the best solution. But sometimes that's [00:46:00] the only resource that someone thinks they have. But there are other resources out there. And I think safe approach brings a good philosophy to understanding the problem and also to developing a solution. So I want to throw this question at you here as we come to a close. And this kind of goes back to what we were talking about at the beginning in your history of just coming into it cold into the fall protection process and learning and taking chances and understanding and then finally getting to the point where now you're the president and an owner of Safe Approach. So if you go back to when you started, like, what do you know now that you wish you had known when you started out from a fall protection standpoint? David Kozlowsky: [00:46:46] That's a really tough question. No one's ever asked me that before. I mean, my brain immediately goes to all of the knowledge that I've gleaned over the years. And I [00:47:00] don't know if I have an immediate answer to that. I would maybe have to think about it some more. But when I first started out, you know, as I went through the learning process, I know I put a lot of pressure on myself to think that I had to be the be all end all to everybody for everything, or they weren't going to call me or they weren't going to trust me with anything. And maybe I guess to answer your question, I think probably one of the biggest things I've learned is that sometimes it's OK to tell somebody, you know, I don't have a solution for that, or at least I don't have the right solution for that. Or maybe I need to go think about it for a while and come back. And just to be honest with people, not that I was ever dishonest, but it was really hard in the beginning to be OK with not knowing everything. And 22 years later, I don't know everything. [00:48:00] And every day I learn something. And it's you know, I think if you ever get to the point where you think you know everything, that you don't know anything. And so it's really just a matter of kind of I wish I could have gone back and told myself, it's OK. It's OK to learn. Yes, fall protection is important. Yes, people's lives are on the line. And yes, you definitely need to take it seriously. But it's OK to not know everything and it's OK to tell people when you don't know. And I feel like people will trust you more if you tell them that you don't know, rather than trying to pretend like you do know everything. Peter Koch: [00:48:37] I think that's actually great advice. And especially in the fall protection realm, you know, if you're just starting out in your own business as a contractor or you come into a safety position and you're looking at a particular situation to look at it and be OK with not knowing, but also understanding that there are experts out there that you can rely on or you can go to the help find [00:49:00] the best solution. And it might not just be one expert. It might be. A combination of maybe it's your insurance carrier and they have a safety expert with expertise around the situation that you're looking at, and maybe it's someone like yourself, David, who works for a specialized company that deals with that particular piece. So knowing where your resources are and being comfortable in that tension of yeah, I think I should know, but I don't know. And that's OK as long as I seek out the best solution that's out there. David Kozlowsky: [00:49:30] Smart people surround themselves with other smart people because they realize they don't know everything. They can't possibly know everything. So you try to surround yourself with people that fill in the blanks and fill in the gaps of what your skill set is. And even myself, I know my skill sets. I know what I'm good at and what I'm not good at. And I try to surround myself with people that are good at things that I'm not good at. And so, you know, if you're out there and you have a unique [00:50:00] situation or you have, you know, a tough spot that you haven't tackled because you just don't know what to do and maybe you do like I do and procrastinate rather than tackle it, then you know what? Maybe, you know, maybe just reach out to somebody for some help and say, hey, let's I need to tackle this and I don't know what to do and let somebody come in and give you a hand. And we can do that. We can give you a hand. We work with you, too. We're not we're not pushy. And we don't we don't come in and try to sell you a bunch of stuff you don't need. We just try to come in and help. We really do. Peter Koch: [00:50:34] That's awesome. And you set me up for this question. So where can our listeners find out more about safe approach if they do have that question? David Kozlowsky: [00:50:42] Sure. You can find us on the Web, www.safeapproach.com, but certainly the phone I'm old school. I like to get phone calls. So 800-471-1157. You can give us a call. You're going to go to the website. And if you're listening [00:51:00] to this podcast and you felt compelled to call me, it's probably because you need something that's not on our Web site. So it's a great resource. But if you go there and you look at the same harnesses that you see in everybody else's catalog, certainly pick up the phone, give us a call. You can email me Davidk@safeapproach.com and we don't charge anything for we're not consultants. So I don't, you know, charge people to come out and do site surveys. Everything's related to solutions. So, you know, we don't want to come out and, you know, charge you for, you know, a site survey and give you reports and all that stuff. But if you have a genuine solution that you need help with, we don't charge anything. We come out, we'll give you give you an honest look. And if we can come up with a solution, we will present one. Peter Koch: [00:51:54] Perfect, thanks. That's awesome. David, I appreciate that. And I imagine you'll get a couple of calls about [00:52:00] that. David Kozlowsky: [00:52:01] Thanks for having me. Peter Koch: [00:52:01] Yeah, no problem. So that about wraps up this week's Safety Experts podcast. And David, again, I wanted to thank you for sharing your expertise with us. And I'd like to have you back at some point in time, because we've only really scratched the surface over the different types of fall protection and the requirements that are out there. And we haven't even really touched the standards that are out there either. So if you're willing, I'd love to have you back on. David Kozlowsky: [00:52:23] I would love to. This is a lot of fun and yes, definitely any time. Peter Koch: [00:52:27] Fantastic. So thanks again for joining us. And to all of our listeners out there, thank you. To today on the MEMIC Safety Experts podcast. We've been speaking about fall protection basics with David Kozlowsky, president and owner of Safe Approach in Poland, Maine. And if you have any questions about fall protection or would like to hear more about a particular topic on our podcast, email me at podcast@MEMIC.com. Also, check out our show notes at MEMIC.com/podcast, where you can find additional resources and links to other podcasts, as well as our [00:53:00] entire podcast archive. And while you're there, sign up for our Safety Net blog so you never miss any of our articles or safety news updates. And if you haven't done so already, I'd appreciate it if you took a minute or two to review us on Stitcher, iTunes or whichever podcast service that you found us on. And if you've already done that, thanks, because that really helps us spread the word. Please consider sharing this show with a business associate friend or family member who you think will get something out of it. And as always, thank you for the continued support. And until next time, this is Peter Koch reminding you that listening to the MEMIC Safety Experts podcast is good, but using what you learned here is even better.
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From a sports standpoint, knees have a pretty high percentage of injury, especially those that require surgery [00:01:00] in activities like a weighted pivot, sort of like soccer, football, tennis and basketball or sports that have a tendency for lateral posterior loading like skiing. There's a fairly significant proportion of injuries in those sporting activities have to do with the knee. There are tons of different ways that you can injure the knee. And in my work history, prior to me coming to MEMIC, I spent some time as a paid ski patroller about 10 years or so, and I still do that off and on. And I can recall plenty of knee injuries to both the staff and the guests. Some were impact related where you're going to fall down or hit something or strike something. But many were from a slow, backward, twisting fall and still others were from overuse walking down the mountain as a snow maker or even that weighted pivot as a lift operator trying to bump a chair. Knees I think overall we're one of the most frequently injured joints that I saw. And then never mind injuries. My knees, as I get older seem to be the thing that slow me down [00:02:00] after having been in a static position for a while. I just want to think about this for a minute. Can you feel it if you're sitting in a car listening to this or maybe you're sitting in a chair or have been seated for a while? When you start to get up, though, your knees might be the thing that are a little bit creaky or a little bit slow. And you can't move as fast maybe as you once could. Well, to talk about this a little more, I have Al Brown on the line with me today. And Al is MEMIC's director of ergonomics, Al has been on the podcast before and brings a unique insight into how our bodies deal with the stresses placed on them during work and play. So on today's episode, we're going to look at the knees specifically how they work and how we can keep them healthy and from being injured. Al welcome back to the podcast. Al Brown: [00:02:47] Thank you. Be happy to be here. Peter Koch: [00:02:49] Psyched to have you back. Hey, so you've been on the podcast before. Why don't you take a couple of moments here and give folks who might be listening for the first time a little background about what your history is and what you do for MEMIC [00:03:00] in your position? Al Brown: [00:03:01] Sure. Pete, appreciate that. I've been around for a while. I'm a baby boomer, but I'd like to try to keep the body young as much as I can. Started life out as a went to Penn State University for my undergrad degree and athletic training, then went on to Howard University in Washington, DC for my physical therapy training, then ended up moving to Maine. About forty years ago, I worked in an orthopedic clinic and then started my own practice with a partner and we worked on site industry, which is was a spectacular experience for me simply because that was where I got my interest in ergonomics and looking at people coming into the clinic that were injured and asking myself, well, why? What's the root cause of this? So we would actually walk back out to the job and take a look at the job tasks and realize there would be specific things that would create the risk [00:04:00] and exposure and then made our abilities to treat them much easier. So it was a natural flow to transition to work injury management, which is where we are today. I been with MEMIC for probably 18 years, fifteen of those as an employee. And essentially that's what we do, is we go out and we're partnering with industry and we look at the risks and exposures and we try to figure out what might be the cause and what they can do from an ergonomic standpoint to reengineer the job and make the change so we can lower the risk. So it's a win for all of us. So and that brings me to here today and what we do and from doing podcast to webinars to live trainings. Looking forward to those you're back to live trainings. But that's how I got here today. Have done some supplemental education at the University of Michigan, working with Armstrong and chafing up there in the engineering department and also at Harvard at the School of Public Health. So, [00:05:00] you know, you have to stay fresh. Things change, it's like medicine. A lot of what we do in the world of medicine is based on research and a lot of the other stuff is just fairy dust. So we like to kind of dust out that fairy dust when we can and get real data and statistics and follow the science. So and with ergonomics, it does change. So we're always having to stay on top of the research. Peter Koch: [00:05:23] That's one of the reasons that you bring so much depth to these conversations, is you have a great history and you've not only seen it from a physical therapy side, but you've looked at it from an industry side and you've looked at it from the research side. So I think kind of trying to build on that in our discussion today about the knee joint itself. I think it's important for us to start with the basics. Right. So we want to move out that fairy dust and we want to make sure people understand that the joint isn't actually as simplistic as folks might seem or might think. So why don't we start with some anatomy? So why don't you take us through how [00:06:00] the knee is designed, what makes it work and maybe what some of its limitations are? Al Brown: [00:06:07] Sure we can go way back Pete, but we'll try to keep it. But it's funny. You look at arms and legs and those are pretty non-functional and a human being when you're first born because we're all trying to develop core stability and that core is your butt your gut, your whole axial skeleton. And once you get some strength and control in those areas, you then can start using the extremities and that upper extremities seem to be first. And then eventually we get down to where we wobble over to the you know, we kind of pull ourselves up on the sofa or on the coffee table and we learn to stand up because we're controlling our hip muscles and then our legs and knees and then we're able to get very mobile. And that's where we are now. Sadly enough, as we age, we begin to wobble again and then we regress. When you look at the knee joint, we often sometimes [00:07:00] just refer to as the hinge joint. But it's not really true. It does hinge. But it also translates to so that there's two big bones, actually the two biggest bones in the body, the femur, which is your thigh bone, and then the tibia, which is the second largest bone, is the lower leg bone, which bears about 80 percent of the force of the weight created by the body. There's the fibula, which is the smaller bone down the side, which you can actually fracture of the fibula and still keep on going just simply because it doesn't bear much of the weight. The largest, sesamoid bone. That'll be on a test later. Peter Koch: [00:07:36] OK, thank you. Al Brown: [00:07:37] Sesamoid bones are the ones that just kind of free floating and it's kind of. And it's your kneecap or your patella, as they call it. So those four bones kind of come together. They're held together by ligaments and tendons and muscles. We look at the alignment because you have both the anatomy and the strengthening of the developmental sequence. That's what a baby goes through to where we [00:08:00] are now. But you also have the genetics that you were handed by mom and dad. So, you know, when we look down at our feet, they may impact the knee. You know, a quick thing everybody can do to see how well they're aligned is if you take your little hipbones, that little bump on the front, not your side down where your pockets are, but on the front side when you lay down and you know, you can feel those two little bumps out in the front, there's a fairly large muscle that goes through the kneecap that attaches there. And if you drew a line from there and then go all the way down to the bump right below your kneecap on your shin, there's a big bump there. And then you look at so you draw a line straight down or, you know, take a chalk line and snap a chalk line on that bad boy and see where your kneecap falls, it should almost be divided, split in half by that line. But the way people are built, if some have knock knees, are going to find that the kneecap will fall inside the line or valgus knees [00:09:00] as the term you would hear medically or if they had various knees or Bow-Legged, that kneecaps are going to fall outside that line. So that's going to impact how that kneecap moves up and down. So if you look at the underside of the kneecap, it's sort of V shaped and that V shape, it's convex. So that's you know, it's a V the projects out covered by cartilage and it fits in a complementary v shaped concave cavity in the femur. So they sort of what they call track. It's kind of like tracking in there. So you want that thing to sit right in the middle. But unfortunately, with genetics, with postural habits, with aging, with, you know, we're more sedentary lifestyle. We begin to change muscle length, muscle strength alignments and we begin to start messing around with where that kneecap, you know, tracks. So, you know, we could go on our whole podcast just on the anatomy, but it's a fairly complex [00:10:00] joint. Think of it this way, too. It functions as a close kinetic chain. Most of the time. That's a fancy term. But let me see if I can. It works, it's the thing that connects us to the Earth. So every time we put that foot on the ground, it's a kinetic chain. It's closed. We put the distance and the foot on the ground. So now all the loading comes up through the body for us to function, you know, give you an example of an open kinetic chain. Your arm is more of an open kinetic change. So when I reach out to get something, I'm not sure of a push up. But what I'm reaching out to grab something this end is not connected. It's allowing me to do stuff, to bring things to me. But your lower extremity is a closed kinetic chain, so it has to control and then move us forward. And just gate is real complex thing that we will see how it impacts us as we go through this podcast. We'll talk a little bit about, you know, what happens to us when certain things happen for example, sitting you [00:11:00] know, when you sit down Pete what happens to those giant muscles in your hips and pelvic area? What are they doing? Peter Koch: [00:11:06] Depends on what side they're on. Right. So by sitting down, everything on the front is relaxed. If I'm sitting in the back, I've got some tightness going on because it might be stretching the bottom. My glute, right. Is that how it works? Al Brown: [00:11:17] Yes. Yeah. So they're passive. So you have some that are shortening some of the lengthening. But think about activity. Is there any activity going on in. Peter Koch: [00:11:24] There's nothing going on there. Just relaxing. Al Brown: [00:11:27] Yeah. So what happens is they begin to atrophy, so now those get weaker. So what happens is those muscles get weaker. It begins to impact what goes on down below because remember that developmental sequence as a child, we have to strengthen our core and then we can start to use our big muscles on our hips and legs and our extremities. And we can function to be mobile. But if we lose some of that core strength, we begin to impact what goes on down below. Peter Koch: [00:11:53] And all that progression as the infant grows relies on activity. If the infant is [00:12:00] not able to be active, they don't, you know, strengthen their core and then they can't build the musculature, the movement patterns in the muscle groups in order to make everything, function. I do want to take you back a little bit into the anatomy part. So we talked about the bones. We talked about some about the muscles. We talked quite a bit about the kneecap. And I like that that conversation about how the kneecap tracks and the visual line and where does that fall, because it could give you some indications on what might be in your future. And then we'll talk later about what might we be able to do to compensate for some of that. But you didn't talk a whole lot about the tendons in the ligaments in there, which are some of the things that do get injured, especially in activities. So whether it be a sport activity or even a slip and fall, those are the things that are going to get damaged. What are the tendons and ligaments make up the knee joint and what do they do? Al Brown: [00:12:51] Sure, yeah. There's quite a few. There's four major ligaments that we look at. There's a whole bunch of ligaments. But if we look at the four that typically are highlighted [00:13:00] and take the hit and again, you know, when you look at athletes today, you know, there's a lot of let's take football, for example. You see a lot of the interior linemen just with all these things on their knees. And part of that is just to protect them because there's such big bodies moving around. And if one falls in the wrong position and whacks the knee, you can impact those ligaments or tendons or cartilage. But the four there's a medial collateral in the lateral collateral ligament and basically they're there. You know, the medial side is to prevent your news from getting. Inward, sort of like in a knock kneed position, the lateral one does the opposite, it prevents you from getting shifted outward and then inside there's two that are fairly large. There's the anterior cruciate ligament and then the posterior cruciate ligament, the anterior cruciate prevents sort of that shifting forward of your [00:14:00] that tibia. Remember that big bone in the lower leg from shifting forward and it does control some of the rotation. Posterior ligament does the opposite. So you had referenced skiing, skiing as an example of where there's a lot of torque and forces created by skis and skis today are actually you know, they're different. Back in the day when I used to lace mine up and clipped down the wire binding, we saw more just boot top fractures. And just because that's where the hit would be. But today's world, you know, it's reengineered and the boots halfway up your leg and it's clipped on. Fortunately, that tends to translate the forces up into that knee. For an example, what's it called? You're more familiar with the skiing industry than I where the back of the ski hits and it creates an interior translation of the knee forward. So it forces the knee forward quickly and you get to enter cruciate ligament injury. Peter Koch: [00:14:56] Sure. That's part of what they call the phantom foot injury. So that [00:15:00] that phantom foot motion, when the ski accelerates forward and, you know, more of your mass is above your knee than below your knee. So the thing that moves faster is the tibia and what's below the tibia with the boot that accelerates forward things above that don't move quite so fast. So you put a significant stress there on the ligaments, ACL, PCL or ACL specifically. Al Brown: [00:15:25] So that, you know, there's an example of, you know, two sports where you have traumatic injuries. You know, we also see that in industry to where somebody might be driving a truck and they've gotten to their location. And instead of climbing down like we encourage workers to do, they may step out onto those saddle tanks, look down and jump down, and all of a sudden they get a rotational force. And now we've got a torn ligament, medial collateral ligament, maybe, you know, the inter cruciate ligament with that sort of rotational torsion force, you might throw in the medial meniscus [00:16:00] and the terrible triad, as they would call it. And so you've started the process of sort of degeneration of the knee. And we've all had those little oh boy, my knee aches a little bit. What was that or what did I do? Or I jumped out of a tree or I, you know, was running around the backyard and I torqued on something and where I'm skiing down the hill and I twisted all those things kind of contribute to the general breakdown of the knee as we age. But there's those four ligaments. There's a bunch of different cartilage. There's fibro cartilage, and then there's hyaline, cartilage, fiber. Cartilage is more fibrous, just like the name implies in the hyaline, cartilage is more smooth. So that's more on joint surfaces like the top of the tibia, the bottom of the femur. It's almost like taking those bones and dipping them in a can of paint. That's where you find your hyaline cartilages, you know, sort of puts a coating over them, the meniscus or more the fibrous cartilage. So those look like donuts and they sit on top of that lower bone, the tibia, and there's like two of them side by side because the femur has that big rounded double [00:17:00]end there that actually sits down in those cartilage. So, again, it's kind of a stabilizer for them to a certain extent when we're upright. Peter Koch: [00:17:07] So it kind of gives them a pocket, that fibrous cartilage for the femur to sit in. And then the hyaline cartilage gives those surfaces the ability to glide instead of grind. Al Brown: [00:17:18] Right. Yeah. And a key component of all that then is just moisture or snow. You know, it's called synovial fluid, joint capsule fluid. That stuff is there to lubricate the joint. And, you know, needless to say, as we get older, yeah, there's less lubrication. So, you know, things get a little stickier. It's called it you know, sometimes it's referred to as the gel factory. I think you referenced it in the beginning when you said, you know, when you go to get up in your little stiff and achy. Peter Koch: [00:17:49] That's exactly it. Al Brown: [00:17:50] Yeah. Movement promotes a reduction in that gel factor because it's like taking anything mechanical. And if you haven't moved it for [00:18:00] a while, it things get sticky. You know, there's not lubrication that grease and oil moving around the thing and we're no different. So when you're static sitting for an extended period of time, you're sort of draining out the fluids and then you start to get sort of a I'm going to call it a dryness, but no fluid between, say, the kneecap and the femur. So when you start the movement, get up to walk, get out of the truck. You have to get through that. Oh, that ache is that dryness. But then you eventually lubricate and then you're good to go. Peter Koch: [00:18:35] We talked a little bit about your body being like a car, too. And so if you think about that car that's been sitting. Idle all night, cold, cold evening, and you go to start it up in the morning, if you don't give it at the opportunity to warm up at Low Rev's and you push it down the road at moderate to fast speed, you haven't allowed the engine oil to warm up and to start to lubricate the pistons and all the internal workings. And we're [00:19:00] very much like that. The longer we sit idle, like you said, the less lubrication we're going to have and those places. And really, unlike a car, we have some advantages the younger we are. But as we get older, we have some disadvantages. Like the younger we are, the better our bar, the easier our body will have, the easier time our body will have to move fluid through those joints. The older we are, the less fluid we have and the harder it is for our body to move fluid into those joints so that we aren't quite as creaky. But like you said, movement is a great thing, right? Al Brown: [00:19:34] Oh, yeah. Pete, I am a 56 Chevy, you know. And let me tell you, it takes a while before I don't just pop out of bed anymore. It's kind of a let's give it a moment. Let's sit on the edge. Let's stretch the hamstrings. Let me stretch my arms above my head. Let me just make sure I can see. And where are my glasses, by the way? And then I wait or I make sure that I slide my hand over to the bedrail. So [00:20:00] as I walk, I does everything work. You're sort of testing it first so that chill factors a little. Peter Koch: [00:20:06] Yeah. And you're not a broken guy. I mean you're, you're a fairly you're a fit individual. You do work out all the time or as often as you can to because you recognize that. So you're not you aren't in the place where you have to do those things because you're broken. But what you're doing is you're warming yourself up to give your body less opportunity to be broken through that movement because moving something that's not ready to be moved is not good for anything. So that's really that's a I want to make that distinction that this does not like the warm up phase, the things that we do before movements. All of those things are important to prevent injury. It can be done because you're injured, but they should be done in order to prevent it from happening in the first place. And we'll get into quite a bit of that when we start talking about strategies to lower the risk. And what do you do after you get hurt? So we'll talk about some of those things as we move through the podcast. [00:21:00] Al Brown: [00:21:00] Sure. Sure. Peter Koch: [00:21:02] So we've talked about a number of things that might make the knees hurt, but let's delve into that a little bit more. What are some things that we talked about? Sports and certainly activities that weighted pivot when I stand on one foot and then I go to turn in one direction or the other, I might be putting my cartilage at risk. I could be putting one of the ligaments at risk depending on the lateral forces, or an impact might make my knees hurt or injured. But what else can really make our knees hurt? What are some of the things that happen in today's society or are in our workplaces that make our knees ache and hurt and be sore and maybe even injured over time? Al Brown: [00:21:39] Sure. The yeah, the ones we sort of just covered and talked about are more trauma. And we do see those in the workplace, you know, those come along probably less often than we used to see because you know, know this, I don't know you realize. But back in the 60s, 1960, do you remember the 1960? Peter Koch: [00:21:59] I remember [00:22:00] at least one year of the 1960, Al Brown: [00:22:04] About half of our jobs were physical and half were sedentary. So it was about a 50/50 split as technology has crept into our lives and as we move forward in time about 80 to 85 percent of our jobs now are sedentary, and that 17, 18, 15, somewhere in that 15 percent range are now, you know, heavier work. So because you've seen that switch, we see less of the traumatic injuries. Does that mean that the injuries have gone away? No. Your question is what else? So when we look at sedentary work, which means I think if you go into Social Security definition of sudden sedentary work, it's handling 10 pounds or less occasionally throughout the day. So in the way they referenced it was carrying a file here or walking over [00:23:00] here doing this. So but you think about most of the jobs a lot of us do nowadays. That's what we do. But what comes coupled with that is we tend to sit more. So when we sit more, we change the biomechanics of the leg in the lower extremity, in that we lose muscle mass in the buttock, we begin to tighten muscles. So now when we get up to move, we begin to see changes in the lower extremity that then begin to create knee pain. But it's from being inactive. So we see those types of injuries. Then we see the truck driver who is sedentary, the logging industry. They're up driving trucks, you know, the forwarders going in, the forwarder is coming out, and they don't even have to get up. The seat now rotates in the forward or so they can don't have to get up, but then they have to get out of the truck. Occasionally when they jump down, there's that that sedentary precursor that set them up for an injury and then they might jump down or just even stepping down. They twist wrong and then they've got the problem. And then you just have medical [00:24:00] conditions that might predispose, you know, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, as you know, from previous trauma. So comorbidities, those aches and pains, you know, trauma that you may have occurred before in your life are now beginning to raise their ugly head if you haven't done things where you stand to lose strength. We have a sedentary job now that mal alignment of the foot, you know, if you genetically were handed over some coronating feet and coronating feet, again, fancy term for, you know, like a flat arch, you know, that's going to take that little bump we talked about earlier right below the kneecap. And it's going to shift that and it's going to shift that sort of in a position that's going to make that kneecap align and properly. So what do you do to fix some of those things? So, you know, you look at trauma, you look at sedentary activity, and then you look at disease processes and those all kind of contribute to the problem. It's hard in our world sometimes to parse out what's related to the work and [00:25:00] what's not related to the work. I think I told you earlier I was going through looking at, you know, looking at research articles on the knee and I typed in knee work injury in the first seven pages of the search were law offices. So that sort of gives you an indicator of, you know, Peter Koch: [00:25:20] It's hard to parse it out like So if one person has a concern and one person has an argument against that, it's natural to look to somebody else to help make that decision. I really do think that discussion is kind of interesting. You talk about the I guess we'll start with genetics a little bit about that. I know one of my daughters has flat arches and she's the only one in our family that has flat arches. And that translated into her when she played sports to have trouble when she ran. And now this time of year with covid and everything, sports aren't really happening. But where she's finding a difficulty [00:26:00] is actually standing for long periods of time. So if she doesn't wear her insoles to help support that arch, then what hurts on her one? It's her arch. But then her knees are sore as well because her job requires her to stand if she's going to work a seven, six, seven hour shifts, sometimes she'll be on her feet the entire time. And just that because of the arch will cause a little mal alignment. And since there's misalignment in places, it's going to cause things to become sore. That might not be sore with someone else who doesn't have that genetic challenge. Or maybe it's a challenge from an injury, like you said before, that comorbidity. Al Brown: [00:26:42] If you look at people, I mean an example of your daughter, you know, when that foot goes, you know, rotates in into a flap, you lose your arch. What it does is we can all make our foot go flat if we sort of push our knee inward, you know, like a knock kneed position. And that's kind of what [00:27:00] happens with a flat foot is that you get that lower tibia rotates outward, the knee tends to come inward. And then if you couple that with the one anatomy piece we didn't talk about early on was there is a difference between the hip with female hip width tends to be a little wider because of child bearing in the way they're built as opposed to males, tend to be a little more narrow. So you couple a pronated foot, you know, the flat foot, the female hip, which in fact she has a wider hip, and then that knee going inward and you get almost a bowstring effect. Where that that giant muscle tendon complex that goes from the hip down below the knee and incorporates the kneecap, the kneecaps getting pulled way in. And those two lines are almost on the outside of the kneecap. So it wants to take that kneecap and fire it out to the outside so she could end up with foot ankle pain, but she could also end up with knee pain just because of that mechanical [00:28:00] alignment down below. So the foot orthotic actually kind of lifts that foot. So when she's standing there, the knee comes back into position, the tibia comes back into position and that kneecap gets realigned. Peter Koch: [00:28:13] Yeah. And actually, that's what happens if you watch if I watch her walk and stand insoles versus no insoles. That's exactly what you're describing. So there is a slight knock knee when she is or her knees coming inward when she's standing and you put the insoles in. And it's not magic, it's not incredibly noticeable. But if you're paying attention, you can see the difference in the alignment and you can totally feel or hear the difference in when she comes back from work or comes back from doing something that when she's on her feet all day, the thing that she'll complain about is the her arch will be sore because she's got the insole and it's just stretching the muscles in the tendons and the ligaments in there because it's forcing the arch into a position that the body was designed to. But genetically, we didn't give it to her. So we've got to do it mechanically. She's [00:29:00] going to love me for years, I can tell you. But I think that's an interesting place because I think if you understand more about how you're structured that like we started with anatomy and physiology. So if we understand the makeup of the knee and what makes it up and what its limitations are, what it's supposed to do, and then you understand your own genetic makeup and how your knee actually functions and what affects it from your postural and your habits, then you can start making some better decisions about what you do and how you do it. I know we were talking before the podcast a little bit about teaching kids how to run in sports, which, you know, it's something that you really don't think you need to do. But I know for me specifically, coaching, coaching girls soccer at the high school level, a couple of years ago, the head coach and I made a decision to [00:30:00]work on stride and foot placement and knee angle and explosive force in our pre-season instead of really pushing fitness. So we did a lot of fitness work, but it was more from a plyometric standpoint and really working more on movement patterns. And whereas we didn't see a huge increase in fitness, what we did see is a decrease in sort of overuse injuries that we might normally get kind of a third of the way through the season as the workloads were starting to pick up pretty heavy as you got into our gameplay season and a sequence of practice, practice, game, practice, game, practice, rest and working that through the season. So I do think that understanding where you are and then doing some things to help with your habits can help set you up for some success to not hurt overall. Al Brown: [00:30:57] If you look, we mentioned this phenomena [00:31:00] in our past podcast and that's that unconscious behavior or subconscious behavior. Most of our motor patterns, most of our movement patterns in our body are pre-programmed or they are things we've done over and over and over again. And they become we get muscle memory, we get body position, memory, and we repeat those. And then they get to the point where they're pretty much automatic. So we don't have to think about them. They can be good motor patterns and they can be bad motor patterns. And you take a guy like LeBron James, he's probably got a pretty good motor pattern with putting the basket in the hoop. But that's all automatic. That's not something he has to think about. It's actually become sort of a subconscious. You take someone like a young athlete you're talking about and for the first time or go back to that baby. They're just trying to create motor patterns to create mobility. And then when you get to a level of becoming good at a sport activity or [00:32:00] work activity, whatever it is, you have to develop motor patterns and you typically don't see what you do. You're just doing it because it's getting you from point A to point B, but a second set of eyes, like a coach or manager or whatever, can see sometimes those poor behaviors and try to modify them and create active. Is that will allow you to practice we take folks that are delayed in the world of muscle activity and one of the things I remember back when I was a physical therapist, we would say, hey, do you guys have a play set in the backyard? You might want to think about investing you want because kids will, you know, climb whatever, and they're creating different motor patterns to do different things. And through play, they actually improve their ability to stand in the world of gravity and move around because of those motor patterns. You know, you put them in front of, you know, something like a computer or a book or sit them down and it's not going to do it. You know, you need to kind of create those good motor patterns. So that's what you did, which [00:33:00] was great in the working world, the workaday world, we have to do the same thing because the workaday world is, you know, eight hours a day. I go in there and some people have good patterns and some people have not so good patterns and some have a blend. So we try to be the eyes and ears so they can understand that because you don't look at yourself. That was the other thing that, you know, we never look at ourselves. We see parts of us or in today's world. I mean, you know, you are on a virtual looking at ourselves right now and each other. But typically we don't get that opportunity. So you don't get to see what your shoulders are doing, what your hips are doing, what your legs are doing, unless someone shows you a video of it. So it's important that we help develop those motor patterns, particularly if we see that are not so good. Peter Koch: [00:33:43] Yeah, and you talk about video. I just and we're going to move on here in just a moment, but I wanted to bring the video piece up. That's one of the tools that you use when you're trying to diagnose manual material handling challenges in the workplace, photos from an office ergonomic standpoint [00:34:00] so that you're able to see certainly in an office ergonomic standpoint, you can look at the setup, but from a manual lateral handling, looking at the cycle of what's happening, because it's hard for the person to describe what they're doing. If you were to talk to them, you're going to walk into the workplace or talk to them on the phone and say, what do you do? What do you do that's causing you pain? Oh I lift stuff? Well, that's really not enough. You've got to know not just where they lift to, but what do they look like when they're lifting? And is the environment what's causing them to lift in that particular way? Or is it actually their postural habits that are keying them into doing those particular pieces? Because you could have something set up very ergonomically well, right within that power zone for someone to lift. And they may still bend over at the waist because that's what they're habit is. So habits play a huge part in how we manage things. Al Brown: [00:34:56] Well, hey, Pete, you know, you talk about habits and we're [00:35:00] talking about motor patterns and we're talking about muscle memory. Here's a classic that we've all encountered. And it's in the work environment sometimes can be an issue. And that's steps bear with me first. I think about the most steps are, you know, six inches or seven inches, you know, or somewhere around there in that range. That seems to be a feasible height that most of us can encounter. But you go up a staircase and it's and there six and a half inches, six and a half inch, six and a half inch. And then you hit that seven or eight inch step because someone miscalculated the step when the rise and run, when they built the steps, how many people go up and they stumble over that last step because they're depending on their body calculating and then going, OK, these are six and a half inch steps. I'm going to bring my foot up, you know, six inch, six and five eighths inches, you know, so I have clearance. But all of a sudden they get to that last step that's just a half inch higher. And they [00:36:00] trip over it. You know, I mean, there's an example of, you know, that repeated behavior and how we incorporate it and where we can get into trouble. Peter Koch: [00:36:08] Yeah, that and in those habits that we build over time, age changes our ability to rely on those habits as our kinesthetic sense and our proprioception changes as well. So the that electrical feedback, if you go back to think about the knee, right. If I'm walking and I'm stepping up into something, my normal habit is to bring my leg up, bending at the hip, bending at the knee that six and five eighths inch. But as I age those receptors, those electrical signals that fire to tell me how high my leg is actually lifted, they aren’t working quite as well. And there could be a dementia in there. There could be an illness in there that's causing even more of a lag. So now I don't lift my leg up. I think it's six and five eighths, but it's really four inches. And so now I just don't stumble a little bit. I catch my [00:37:00] entire foot on that step and I go right on my face onto the landing. We totally build those habits over time and age. There's lots of different things that can change how effective those habits can be, both externally and internally, it seems. Al Brown: [00:37:15] Yeah, and with a sedentary shift, you know, again, we do have that aging workforce, you know, you look at Maine in particular, we are the oldest workforce in the nation, but in general, there's a real demographic shift in the workforce out there. So those kinds of things occur. And then you've got the perfect storm with not only the aging workforce, but now much of our work is much more sedentary. So we don't get up and like that child out there running around, jumping up on the swing set. If you take the adult version now, we're not out there sort of plowing the field, pulling the weeds, walking around and exercising those muscles and sort of re-cueing all those motor patterns. We're sitting at the computer. So then when we go and do something like climb [00:38:00] those stairs, we've lost, you know, if you don't use it, you lose it. It starts to fade. And, you know, the cues aren't correct. So how do we fix that? Sometimes we go, I'm going to get rid of those stairs. I might get our house on one floor and I'm going, start digging the hole. You know, you're going in. Come on. We live in a world of gravity. You can't avoid it. Peter Koch: [00:38:20] Yeah. You got to keep moving. Peter Koch: [00:38:23] Let's take a quick break so I can tell you about our E-Ergo resource that can be used to help solve ergonomic challenges at your workplace, sometimes contacting, contracting with and scheduling an ergonomist or occupational health nurse for an onsite evaluation doesn't fit with our Just-In-Time workflow. In a competitive economy, fixing the problem right now is essential, and improving worker comfort and efficiency are key components to ongoing success. Free to our policyholders. MEMIC's E-Ergo tool can help you overcome ergonomic challenges. With just five quick photos or [00:39:00] a short 30 second video and a brief description of what's being shown, you can send us the critical demands and essential functions within the work tasks. Once received, our ergonomics team can identify risks and exposures and provide reasonable suggestions for ergonomic improvement within just a few short days. Start the E-Ergo process by logging into the MEMIC safety director at www.MEMIC.com/WorkplaceSafety. Now let's get back to today's episode. Peter Koch: [00:39:34] That statistic that you quoted before about our work, our sedentary work versus active work was about 50 50. If you go back into the 40s, 50s, 60s. And as we've moved into the 80s, 90s, 2000s and to current day, we have gone into a mostly sedentary work style. So even if you had an active [00:40:00] lifestyle back in the 50s and 60s, so you actually got out and you did stuff, if you had a sedentary lifestyle, you may be like, I remember my grandmother. Right. So many, many years ago. She might be fairly sedentary in the house. But once my grandfather came home, she would be out in the garden. She spend four or five hours out in the garden, weeding, planting, harvesting, and then coming back in and doing all that active work inside the house. So even if she did do some sedentary work inside, there is still active work that she did outside. If you have a sedentary job and now a lot of our recreational opportunities have been truncated as well, so we're not maybe as active as we once were outside, we have that double effect of having a sedentary job and also maybe a sedentary outside of work life, too. So it's a double [00:41:00] whammy almost, if you think about it. So let's talk more about how that sedentary life affects our knees specifically. Al Brown: [00:41:09] Yep, let's take sitting because that that we see sitting everywhere, it's, you know, again, you take something that is heavy duty as the logging industry all the way down to someone that works kind of in our environment like an office environment. And we see Uber, you know, and anything you name a lot of us sit. So when we look at that and we look at what happens to the anatomy of the lower extremity, you know, we can talk all about the back and the shoulder and all that stuff. But if we stay down just in the from the hip down, we're taking there's a bunch of muscles are two muscles that we look at called the iliopsoas there's the hip flexor, so if you were to bring your knee up in front of the muscles, sort of initiated, that's this giant hip flexor. Well, that muscle [00:42:00] is it sort of starts in the front of your thigh. And if you could stick your fingers through your pelvis and out the back side to your back, it attaches to the inside of your pelvis bones and then it attaches also to the spine on the back. So you shorten that muscle up. And then if you look at your knee, your knee is flexed or bent and the muscle on the back side of your thighs called your hamstring so that muscles actually shortened up. And so just looking at those two muscles, if you spend quite a bit of time at a desk and a lot of us do or sitting, it could be driving, could be it doesn't matter you seven to eight, nine hours, you begin to change the length of those muscles. So now let's try to stand up with the muscle that won't let that thigh fully engage and go fully vertical. So you have to slightly forward flex pelvis and then the knee can't fully extend since you got a slightly bent knee. [00:43:00] So now you watch people and it changes the balance and the gate when we walk. And this is when, you know, we start to see trouble because you can tell if someone's been a sitter for a long period of time because they'll start their head when they walk, will wobble back and forth side to side, side to side. And that tells me that their hip flex or their hip muscles have gotten so weak they can't stabilize the body over one leg. So when the person steps on that one leg on your right leg, the right hip has to pick up the left side, the left hip so your leg can swing through and you don't stumble. And then you wait there on the left side and the left hip kicks up and brings you through. The problem is, is that muscle gets weak when you weight bear on the right, right is weak. It drops the left. So now for you to block without stumbling, you have to throw your body back [00:44:00] over the right leg and you get this wobbling walk that you see, folks. It's actually a Trendelenburg gait. There's actually a name to it. And that tells me there's trouble ahead because we've got weakness starting. But all that translates down into that kinetic chain that attaches to the earth. So when that foot touches, we've got all those tightness going on in the muscles we de-lubricated the kneecap, the underside of the kneecap. Why wouldn't you have trouble? You know, it's a storm. Peter Koch: [00:44:29] Sure. And it all starts with sitting. Yes. And sitting for a long time. And I think it's an interesting if you're listen to this podcast and you have the opportunity to watch other people do things in the workplace. So watch somebody sit at a desk for a while, watch what their legs do. And so, you know, we talk about good ergonomic position, a desk or in a chair. And you want sure. That you want a 90 degree or close to 90 at the between the femur and the lower leg or the tibia there [00:45:00] and their feet firmly planted on the ground. We'll watch some people sit at the desk and they'll shift from that position as they get closer and closer to the screen, as their stress level goes up and up, their legs will kick underneath them, kind of curl around the legs of the chair, or I'll watch people actually sit on one leg. And you're shortening things a lot more. You're stretching things a lot more on the top side, forcing really all that lubrication out of the joint. Watch that behavior, watch those patterns, see what people do. And it's a wonder that when you sit up or stand up after being focused for a while on a conference call or focused for a while on a project at your desk or at a problem that you're trying to figure out, those habits just sort of kick in and they put you at a disadvantage. And then all of a sudden we want to move like the phone rings in the other room, or we have somebody else that comes in and we want to turn around quickly or stand up quickly. We're not ready and we've put ourselves in that odd position. Then we're going to, [00:46:00] we're not going to do our body any good that one time. And if we continue to do that, it's just going to wear parts down over time until it breaks. Al Brown: [00:46:10] Exactly right. And the one thing we, you know, the one we haven't touched on, but probably not so much again for today, but, you know, if you go back, I think in May 2019, the Harvard Health Publishing from the Harvard Medical School put out a newsletter that said the dangers of sitting and what we haven't talked about is, you know, as you approach 11 hours of sitting a day, there's 35 medical conditions and diseases that go up exponentially. You know, that's the type two diabetes, cardiovascular disease. What we don't, what we forget about is, you know, we're talking about all the mechanics today, but in the physiology of life or the physiology of these muscles, these giant muscles really help to kind of use some of that blood glucose. And if they're not, [00:47:00] and they take up a good chunk of it because they're so big so that your grandmother, when she was out doing her thing in the garden, she was using up that blood glucose. So she was you know, she was keeping her body in balance. But with the new normal of we're more sedentary. Those muscles are quiet. So not only are they getting weaker and tighter, but now we're not consuming the blood glucose. So now that begins to have physiological impacts on us. Type two diabetes, the heart disease and all those kinds of good things, right, bad things. So there's, you know, there's research around it. So we understand it. And here we are. Peter Koch: [00:47:39] Right. So it really does go to that point where the information's out there. It's not rocket science. And I don't want to belittle any of the information out there, because some of it is fairly complex. But the simplistic form of some of that research is movement is good for you. So move. And the less you move, the [00:48:00] harder it is to move later on. And so it's this downward spiral where all of a sudden you get to the point where you can't functionally move anymore, or at least you can't do it without a lot of preparation or a lot of help, and therefore you don't want to do it as much anymore. So that downward spiral of no movement is pretty challenging. So let's take that into our knees again. And what if our knees sore, like we are sore at the end of the day, our knees are kind of achy. Maybe this is the first time we really looked at it as something that we can solve. What are some things beyond general movement that we can do to help when our knees are sore after a day of being sedentary or a day of work? Al Brown: [00:48:46] Mm hmm. Well, if we go back, I mean, just looking at work, if we were to look at I'm looking at a job now or an ergonomic assessment of a foundry and right now in this particular job, they're allowing the worker to kind of move up [00:49:00] and down the line and glue castings and assemble these casting molds. And they're looking to minimize that movement. And I actually encouraged him not to take that movement away, to allow them to move. So within the work environment, sometimes we look at can we create more work pods if it's a manufacturing environment? So instead of someone standing in one place for an extended period of time, manufacturing something and assembling things, they can actually move within a pod. So it allows them to kind of move around. So that's sort of an engineering thing that you can do, that you create you broaden the job task. In that particular case, in an office setting, you know, you've seen the introduction of dynamic desks where folks consider stand now, realize because everybody thought that was the solution, not everybody. But, you know, you hear the press and the narrative was like, well, that's going to solve the problem. And then the research came out. That doesn't solve the problem. And that's right, [00:50:00] because I want you to know that standing is just as static is sitting. The value of something like a dynamic desk is to be able to take a knee joint that's been maybe in a bent position and a hip flexor that’s been in a bent position and allows you to change to a different posture and get yourself up. And when you're standing, just like, you know, when I stand on my desk, I don't stand still, you know, I wobble back and forth. I bend my knees. So I'm actually lubricating and adding value. Now, if we take an administrative change, you get construction sites, construction workers, even manufacturing that now have incorporated let's kind of like an athlete warm up before we start the day so they might have a morning session of discussion of how the day will go. But during that time, they're actually stretching their body. I have a granite installation company that does that every morning at seven o'clock, they have a circle, they do their stretches, but they also go over what's going to go on for the day. And then at the second half [00:51:00] of the day after lunch, they do it again. We have an oil delivery company fairly large in the state of Maine that when they get out of the truck, first, they step down, they climb down. They do three movements to reset their body and gravity before they initiate the pulling of the hose and yanking and filling tanks and so on and so forth, so you can take those kind of active pieces and look at it from broaden the work task or, you know, encourage change of body posture throughout the day with the office worker. We encourage we change the stretch a little bit of the movement, but we do it more midday in mid-afternoon because when you get there, you know, you're not going to do heavy activities like work. So when you sit down, it's that sedentary activity you want to break up. So getting out and moving with truck drivers, with long haul folks, you'll see now signs that say, hey, take a stretch, break it out, move around. So we try to encourage folks to kind of break up those static [00:52:00] postures, either through engineering changes by broadening the task or by just, you know, general stretch rate movements and finding opportunities to move. Peter Koch: [00:52:10] That's a really good, great point there. And I bet you folks listening to the podcast right now are in agreements with you that, yes, changing body posture throughout the day is beneficial for you. They feel it themselves. When they shift, they move, they sit, they stand. They don't stay static in one posture for too long during the day or even if they exercise before work, after work, at lunch, whatever happens that they're going to feel better at the end of the workday. But why do we have to keep repeating the message? I mean, I think that's a it's an interesting human thing to consider and it goes back to the habits. Right. So a habit is difficult to build, but easy to break. So if you've built that habit of stretching before work or doing something to [00:53:00] encourage posture, change, sit, stand desk. But if you've built that habit up over six, eight, 10, 12 weeks and now you have a different project or you get a job change or something shifts or the busyness at work, you're not finding the time or you are thinking that you can't build that time in anymore. It doesn't take that long to remove that habit. And you're right back to where you were before. So the constant repetition, that's why like a company led program, whether it be for stretching or whether it be just a check in to make sure that people are actually doing that on their own, like your delivery driver that you talked about there or I don't know, I see like your flaggers on the side of the road, Al Brown: [00:53:45] Brutal job, brutal job. Peter Koch: [00:53:47] And people think, oh, no, it's an easy job. It's not an easy job, man. Stand on your feet all day long and have a couple of breaks where you can sit by the time you get to sit during the day, if you're just standing there and if you've ever been at a [00:54:00] stop for a while, waiting for the flagger to let you go. And you've been there for one minute to minute, five minutes. Sometimes it's ten minutes depending on what's happening in the construction zone. And watch the person who's there, the person who's there, who knows their body is doing what you're saying. They're moving back and forth or stepping out. They're stepping back. They're not, not paying attention, but they're moving their body around some of those guys and gals that aren't paying attention as much. They're in that one position. They're just standing there kind of leaning on their stop sign. And they are going to be very sore at the end of the day, whether they know it or not. Al Brown: [00:54:37] Yeah, well, and it goes it's a kinetic change. So the more static you are, the more you constantly load one part of your body. I mean, that's and discomfort breeds change. So some of us have a better feedback loop than others so that if you start to act a little bit, you go, I'm going to move. And it's called you know, it's fidgeting and fidgeting as I was trying to find comfort. And if you're not a fidgeter, you're more you're more [00:55:00] just a plopper. like you just sit down, you don't move. You're going to be more prone to those things like osteoarthritis, the diabetes, all those kinds of things, because you don't get the cues to do it. So it is hard. It is a very hard thing because with aging, you have a decline in the quality of your joints faces as much as you try to. You know, let's go back to that 56 Chevy analogy. You know, even though you try to take care of it, you take care of the rust spots, you make sure the tires are aligned to keep the carburetor tuned. You know, it still probably leaves a little oil on the floor and it doesn't corner like it used to or it corners like it used to, but it's nothing compared to the newer stuff. And things break. It's not as smooth as it used to be, and it's just the aging process. So we are fighting that declining battle. But you can slow that down. I think if you look back [00:56:00] physiologically, you know, we look at what is a 78, 79 years is sort of what life expectancy is now. But you can physiologically be. 20 to 30 years younger than that chronological age. If that makes sense, you know, so you can and again, that's genetics, how you take care of yourself. And when we look at knees, it's really important because that's what connects us to the Earth to a certain extent. Your feet all the way up to the knees and then the hips and gives us the mobility we want. So if you take care of those through, you know, just healthy activities of getting out and walking, getting out and moving during the workday work because again, you don't want to just jam it all into, like, you know, a half hour or 45 minutes of exercise because we call those active couch potatoes. I think they coined that phrase in Australia. But there they have the same health risks as those folks or pretty close to the same health risk as those folks that sit all day long and don't do that because what they do after [00:57:00] they do their 45 minutes, hours of exercise, what do they do? Peter Koch: [00:57:03] Nothing. Al Brown: [00:57:03] They go sit down. They go, thank God. Peter Koch: [00:57:06] Check that box. Al Brown: [00:57:08] The collective number of hours you spend sitting are the problem. You are better off just being a mail person, walking around and delivering mail. You're like a diesel. You just keep moving around, keep moving, keep moving. And you're burning a lot of energy, but your body is much healthier. And again, just to go back to your grandmother and grandfather back in those days, there's a lot of people that were physical, I think, of like a coal miner and those jobs to live in just today. But back in the day I lived in north eastern Pennsylvania, coal mining was very physical and so physical. It was traumatic, traumatic to the body and destroy the body so you can overdo the physical stuff, you know, that doesn't keep you healthy. You know, there's a balance. There's a sweet spot in there where one needs to take care of the human physiology and body, but not over abuse. But you can't be sedentary because [00:58:00] that's going to sort of deteriorate all those things that make up your body. So there's that you have to find that sweet spot in between. Peter Koch: [00:58:08] It brings up a thought to me that the body always seeks balance. It seeks stasis, whether it's temperature, fluid, blood pressure or whatever that is, it always seeks to be in balance somehow. And when we're out of balance, then something goes haywire. And that goes just from a structural imbalance, too. So when you're the physical demands are greater than your body can deal with, like those incredibly harsh physical jobs like coal mining, salt mining. And even today we think about some of those harsh physical jobs. Driving a truck is a pretty harsh physical job overall because it might not be as physically engaging all parts of your body in an active way, driving a truck, a long haul trucker, the forces that get placed on their back and their knees and their shoulders and their neck and everything [00:59:00] else, it's just as damaging because there's no balance. There's no stasis there. So you've got to know, like, almost know thyself, know how much is too much, whether it be a sedentary activity or it is an actually active thing that you're engaged in. You've got to know how much is too much and where to back off and how to find that balance. And like you said, I think that's a great term. Find that sweet spot for you between activity and stasis because we all like to relax. I mean, there's nothing wrong with sitting down and enjoying a breath every once in a while. But when that gets continued out too far, it certainly has some detrimental short term and long term effects on our physiology, our morbidity and our abilities to engage in the world effectively. Al Brown: [00:59:50] You know, we deal with employers and, you know, employers are dealing with an aging workforce. And so, you know, collectively they've got to think about that from an ergonomic standpoint. That's one [01:00:00] of the challenges we're faced with. And you look at its funny stairs an example. You know, some of these sort of industrial locations might have that three stairs to get by on up into change, something in a paper machine or whatever the case may be. Then there's other places that might have a whole flight of stairs. And if you're an employer and you're requiring employees to carry something and go up and down the stairs, all of a sudden if it's a two handed carry, you have to totally rely on those old knees to support you to go up or down. It's easier to go up than it is to go down. And anybody who's hike knows that it's a lot. Most people it's easier to go up the mountain than it is to go down the mountain simply because it's always a double transfer. You are putting one foot up ahead of you and you push off with the leg that's behind you to help to accelerate up over that other one that's going to help lift get your other foot up. So you always have sort of a general propeller, a double propulsion to get you [01:01:00] up. So when you climb, it works pretty well. When you come down, you are decelerating with one leg to lower yourself down. There's no you're just going. I hope that left knee holds and lowers me down to the right knee. And that's where people have problems because the mechanics change stairs, you'll see folks modify their behavior. And again, this is one of those things you think you're doing a safe thing, but they sort of turn their foot sideways on the step to come down the step. We've all done it thinking, well, if I just turn sideways, I won't. You know, it's not as bad. Peter Koch: [01:01:35] Just not as scary Al Brown: [01:01:35] Yes, it's just not as scary. But the problem is they've taken that. If we go back to your analogy of a hinge joint right now, again, it's not a simple hinge joint, but now you've taken that hinge joint, you've turned it sideways, and then you've asked it to bend in a direction that doesn't go. And you put all kinds of stress on the inside of, you know, the knee when [01:02:00] you're coming down the stairs. So you're going to talk all kinds of arthritic changes. So I guess my when you're looking at the work environments, really look at stairs as can I avoid those, is that part of the essential function of this job? If a person has to go up and down it, are they big enough? Are they all equal in height? Can we get the tools up there without them having to carry them? Never have them to hand carry something up or down stairs because they always need that extra hand to support the legs, to go up and down, get in and out of a truck. There's always got to be a three point touch to come in and out of vehicles. Peter Koch: [01:02:33] Those are great points from a workplace standpoint. And really, when we think about it, we want to make sure that we have some strategies in place to help prevent knee injuries. And those are some great pieces. Where can you limit those areas where you're going to have people put stress on their knee either through balance, through carrying stairs, ramps, uneven surfaces, all of those places. We want to make sure that there's nothing unexpected [01:03:00] in the workplace that someone's going to encounter. Maybe it's the lighting changes. Those things can certainly put you in an unbalanced position and put your knee back shoulder, whatever happens at risk, depending on what you're doing. But certainly those places where you have stairs and ramps, check them out, see if there's something that you can do to reduce the potential for a knee related injury because of what we're asking the employee to do. That's great. Great advice Al great advice. Al Brown: [01:03:29] It's you know, there's one body part. You know, everybody can go realize what aging has done to them. And there's one muscle that you can check out right away, and you can do it one or two ways, whatever works for you. But if you lie down o
88 minutes | 4 months ago
Leadership and Ownership with Randy Klatt
"There are no bad teams only bad leaders.” This is a quote from Leif Babin in chapter 2 of the book, “Extreme Ownership, How Navy Seals Lead and Win”. This gets to the heart of Ownership as a leader. Success for a team, no matter how large or small, will rise and fall on how well a leader own’s the mission, decisions, and outcome for their team. On this episode of the MEMIC Safety Experts Podcast, Randy Klatt, Director of Region 1 Loss Control for MEMIC and I talk about how a leader can incorporate safety into any business using the concepts outlined in the book, “Extreme Ownership, How Navy Seals Lead and Win” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.
39 minutes | 4 months ago
A Fraction on Seasonal Safety
Festivities during the holiday time tend to increase the number of hazards we are exposed to. We set up decorations, hang lights, bake, depending on the industry, put in more hours at work, and overall burn the candle at both ends just to get it all done so we can relax and ring in the new year. Couple that with cold weather, the season of getting new toys for the holidays or sales between Thanksgiving and the New Year, and there is a natural uptick in the number of wholly preventable, sometimes embarrassing injuries. Today, I am going to look at some of those possible events, and link them up with some sage advice from our Safety Net Blog.
57 minutes | 5 months ago
Shouldering the Load with Al Brown
There are multiple risk factors associated with shoulder injury including repetitive work, elevated arm posture, and constrained work spaces. If you don’t think it’s a problem, think again. According to a new study published in Human Factors, shoulder injuries cost industry in western countries $29 Billion dollars a year. Not only is shoulder injury prevention a smart safety practice, but it’s a quality of life issue as well. On this episode of the MEMIOC Safety Experts Podcast, I speak with Al Brown, MEMIC’s Director of Ergonomics about shoulder health and what can be done to prevent shoulder injury.
59 minutes | 5 months ago
The Abilene Paradox with Randy Klatt
Ever been right in your head, but wrong out loud because everyone else seemed to think it wasn't a good idea? In 1977, Jerry B. Harvey, professor of management science at George Washington University, outlines the Abilene Paradox which describes how the inability to properly manage agreement can be an indication of dysfunction within an organization. On this episode of the MEMIC Safety Experts Podcast, Randy Klatt, Director of Region 1 Loss Control for MEMIC and I talk about how managing agreement and how a leader comes to their decisions might just be the next step in moving your safety culture forward.
10 minutes | 5 months ago
A Fraction on Friction - 37 Degrees
Slip and fall injuries always increase in the fall and the winter months. Especially during those weather days when there are rapid or significant temperature changes. On this episode of the MEMIC Safety Experts Podcast, we have another installment of our Fractional Safety Series where we take a quick, but detailed look at a narrow topic. The focus today is on how temperature affects surface conditions, looking at the 37 degree warning, dew point temperature, and a few tips to help predict less obvious slip and fall hazards. Check it out at memic.com/podcast Peter Koch: Hello, listeners, and welcome to the MEMIC Safety Experts podcast, I'm your host, Peter Koch. And today we're going to do another installment of our fractional safety series. Like many topics, safety casts a broad net. So in the fractional safety series, I take a more focused look at a single aspect of a topic, just a fraction of the holes, so to speak. These are typically shorter episodes, but will be packed with information and hopefully some nuggets that you can take back with you. In today's installment of our fractional safety series, we continue with a fraction on friction, slip and fall prevention, and we look specifically at how temperature affects the surface conditions. So let's dive right in. Why does your car, if you have one with an external temperature sensor and we all agree that water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit most of the time, why does your car warn you that at 37 degrees roads may be icy? Well, [00:01:00] is it because that carmakers want a margin of error? Or maybe the programmers felt they needed a harbinger of 32 degrees? Well, if we look at it more closely, we can discover that, though either could be true. Neither are actually the reason. It's all about location and it has to do where the thermometer is located on your car. Most car thermistors or temperature sensors are located somewhere on the front of the car, maybe behind the grill or in one of the side mirrors, and they can be affected by the radiant heat of the walkway. It's a tough engineering decision. You put it too close to the engine compartment and the sensor will be affected by the engine temperature. Burry it too deeply in the vehicle and it won't register the outside ambient temperature at all. It needs to be somewhere far enough away from the engine, but close enough to the outside of the car. Then it can be in the airflow around the car. Accurate readings from these sensors will come after the car has been traveling [00:02:00] at speed and the airflow has normalized for the radiant heat of the roadway. However, in the winter location is also the reason for the warning. At 37 degrees. In the winter, temperatures taken above ground level will be slightly warmer than at the road surface, especially at night after the roadway has cooled. So when the temperature sensor is located in the grill or side mirror, it doesn't reflect the temperature at ground level. Thus, the car manufacturers will give you fair warning that icy conditions are possible at 37 degrees. Well, how does this translate then into slips and falls? Well, similarly, you may have experienced checking the temperature, finding that it's in the mid 30s, and then your first step on the pavement is like stepping on to a skating rink, not even realizing that there's going to be ice there on the ground because, again, water freezes at 32 degrees and the temperature you just checked was maybe 35 or 36 or 38. Think [00:03:00] about where the thermometer that you just checked, whether it's at work or at home, is located. If you have a backyard thermometer or maybe even a window thermometer, those are located well, somewhere that you can see them from a window. And even if you don't have a local thermometer and like many of us, we use a weather app on our phone or computer that might not give you accurate surface temperature reading either, according to weather.gov, when temperatures are officially recorded for hourly weather observations and climate reports, they're measured at a height of between one and a quarter and two meters above the ground. That's between four and six and a half feet. The instruments are housed in special shelters called Stevenson Screens. They are named after the father of writer Robert Louis Stevenson. And meteorologists call this temperature the surface temperature, and that's the temperature that gets reported out to the public. Again, these provide readings of the ambient temperature where the sensor is located, or an average [00:04:00] of many sensors, but not at ground level. During clear and calm nights, the temperature at the ground or some surface near the ground can become much cooler than the reported temperature. The radiation of heat away from the ground is the cause in this drop, in these conditions, the coldest air forms near the ground and being heavier than the air above it remains there. So even when the temperature is in the mid to upper 30s, frost or ice can still form. Just because it's cold, though, doesn't always mean that it's icy. There are other environmental conditions that will factor into the formation of frost or ice on a walkway or road. Let's take a quick break. Peter Koch: Seasons change and with cooler temperatures come slip and fall hazards, sometimes we get complacent and think we've got it covered. But statistics show that slip and fall injuries always increase in the fall and the winter. Did you know that MEMIC has a page on their website about winter safety resources that anyone [00:05:00] can access? It has reminders, tips and checklists that you can use for your home or your business to help you prepare for winter hazards. Check it out at MEMIC.com And search for winter safety. If you are a policyholder with MEMIC, then check out the winter safety resources at MEMIC.com/workplacesafety and log in to safety director. Now let's get back to the Fraction on Friction episode. Peter Koch: So let's talk a little bit about dewpoint. Dew point is the temperature or point at which the air is saturated with water vapor or water in its gaseous state, well all air has some water vapor in it and the amount of water vapor the air can hold varies with temperature. The warmer the air, the greater its ability to hold water vapor. And if the air cools down enough, it won't be able to hold the moisture that it started with and the water vapor will condense into water droplets. Or if the temperatures fall, enough [00:06:00] ice crystals. When the sun is out, the air temperature near the surface is usually above the dew point and water in the atmosphere remains as vapor. However, as the sun sets and the earth radiates heat into space, the air near the surface can cool to the dew point temperature. On cold, clear nights if the surface temperature and dew point temperatures are below freezing, then frost will form. And this can make for some slippery travel. But it tends to form fairly slowly and can be easily managed if we anticipate it. On the other hand, fog can be more challenging, especially when it's colder. Fog often forms on cold or clear nights as the temperatures drop to the dew point in areas where there is abundant moisture, such as around unfrozen rivers, lakes or soil that is still damp or wet. Fog contains large amounts of liquid water. And if a fog bank passes over a walkway, parking lot or roadway that has cooled to a temperature below freezing, icing can [00:07:00] be rapid and take a toll on travelers with a thick coat of ice being deposited in mere minutes. Temperature affects surface conditions in multiple ways, and the media or Internet based sources we normally rely on to influence our decisions for travel may not be enough to keep us safe and upright in some circumstances. Understanding the relationship between air temperature, surface temperature and dew point temperature can help you identify problems and make decisions for future actions. Here are some practical tips for predicting less obvious outdoor slip and fall potentials. So first, clearing skies with low or no wind can indicate rapid radiational cooling potential. This can have an impact on any walkway moisture and raise a red flag for your morning commute or walk to the mailbox when the temperatures start to drop next, the sun helps to melt frosty surfaces. However, surfaces and shaded areas can hold ice well into the day, even when [00:08:00] reported temperatures are above freezing. Next, know your locations, know where you work, live and commute. Are they near water or open fields? Do you normally see fog in those areas on cold or cool mornings when the temperatures start to drop and get into those mid 30s and you expect fog in those areas? Be sure to use caution. And finally, remember, officially reported temperatures are warmer than surface temperatures, especially on cold, clear nights. If air temperatures drop below the thirty seven degree mark, freezing conditions may already exist at the surface. There's a ton more that we can talk about regarding how temperature affects surface conditions. We didn't even get to freezing rain or wind. However, you can check out some additional reading at MEMIC.com/podcast where you can find more resources on this topic and our entire podcast archive. Peter Koch: That about wraps up this weeks, safety expert podcast. Today, we've been exploring how temperatures, even [00:09:00] those above freezing, can indicate freezing conditions and affect surface friction. Thanks again for joining us. If you have any questions on this topic or would like to hear more about a particular topic on our podcast, or you have ideas of other episodes related to safety, email me at podcast@MEMIC.com. And if you haven't already, I'd appreciate it if you took a minute to review us on Stitcher, iTunes or whichever podcast service that you listen to us on. And if you've already done that, well, thank you, because it really helps us spread the word. Please consider sharing this show with a business associate friend or family member who you think will get something out of it. And as always, thank you for your continued support. Until next time. This is Peter Koch reminding you that listening to the MEMIC Safety Experts podcast is good, but using what you learn here is even better.
45 minutes | 6 months ago
One Path Forward - American Society of Safety Professionals with Deb Roy and Alexis Flink
The road to becoming a safety professional can take many directions. Certifications like CSP, ASP, or OHST, experience in a particular field, or assumed responsibilities on a job can all lead to a career as a safety professional. Knowing that you have a group to help you sort our choices can be a powerful boost. On this episode of the MEMIC Safety Experts Podcast, Alexis Flink, outgoing President of the Maine Chapter of ASSP, Deborah Roy, Current president of ASSP and I talk about the how the American Society of Safety Professionals can help no matter where you may be in your safety career.
62 minutes | 6 months ago
Seasonal Farm Worker Safety with Lisa Tapert
The overall health of a person can have a significant effect on their ability to work safely and produce a quality product in a timely manner. Many of our migrant and seasonal farm workers bring with them similar baseline health issues as their local counterparts. Combine this with language, cultural, and transportation barriers you have a particularly challenging problem. Enter the Maine Mobile Health program. On this episode of the MEMIC Safety Experts Podcast, Lisa Tapert, CEO of Maine Mobile Health and I talk about America’s Seasonal and Migrant Farm Workers, the safety and health challenges they face, and what Maine Mobile Health has been doing to support both the growers and workers.
51 minutes | 7 months ago
Opioids in the Workplace with Shelby Pedersen
Opioid addiction and use in the workplace have been on the rise in the US. Employers should have a solid opioid prevention and response plan in place if their circumstances warrants. On this Episode of the MEMIC Safety Experts Podcast, I talk with Shelby Pedersen, Licensed Athletic Trainer, ASP, and Safety Management Consultant with the MEMIC Group about the effects of opioids in the workplace and how to build an effective response plan.
60 minutes | 7 months ago
Keeping America's Aging Workforce Safe with Al Brown
According to a 2018 research paper published in Sage Journal’s Workplace Health and Safety, citing numbers from NIOSH, the number of individuals aged 65 and older is projected to double by 2030, hitting 20% of the total US population. And the US Census Bureau projects that older adults (65 and older) will out-number children (18 and younger) by 2034. Americans are staying at work longer than in any other time in our industrial history. This brings numerous benefits as well as unique challenges to employers across the country. On this Episode of the MEMIC Safety Experts Podcast, I talk with Al Brown, MEMIC’s Director of Ergonomics. Together we are going to dig into America’s Aging workforce then talk about some strategies for injury prevention, and how employers can continue to enhance workplace safety.
55 minutes | 8 months ago
Indoor Air Quality with Luis Pieretti
Indoor air quality can make or break a workplace. Understanding some basic concepts around air movement, ventilation system, off gassing, and fresh air vs re-circulation can help you identify potential problem areas in your facility. On this Episode of the MEMIC Safety Experts Podcast, I talk with Luis Pieretti, phD and Manager of Industrial Hygiene here at MEMIC. Together we will dig into indoor air quality challenges, the effects of indoor air quality on the worker, and strategies for change.
65 minutes | 8 months ago
Safety in the Commercial Kitchen with David Darnley
Commercial Kitchen, Kitchens, Restaurant, hospitality, safety, HACCP, Hazards Analysis Critical Control Points, equipment safety, burns, cuts, material handling, Fryer, Slicer, Mixers, Slicers, and Fryers!! Oh My!! Inside the commercial kitchen lurks a myriad of hazards that workers can be exposed to. Trouble is, some aren’t always a hazard, some aren’t always visible, and many are so common we don’t consider them a danger. The numbers show, while most of the injuries that happen in a restaurant are minor like small cuts or burns, or strains and sprains, major life changing injuries can and do occur. Head injuries from a slip and fall, blindness from a hot grease splash, 3rd degree burns from a steam kettle, or an amputation from an unguarded mixer or knife slip. Add to that some stats like 1 in 3 employed teens work in the restaurant industry or 6 out of every 10 American’s first job was in food service, and you get a challenging recipe for consistent safety and injury prevention. For the episode, Safety in the Commercial Kitchen, Peter speaks with Dave Darnley, Safety Management Consultant at MEMIC about hazards in the kitchen and strategies to integrate safety into the fast paced workflow of the restaurant business. They swap stories about assignments gone wrong and how to prevent little things from becoming big problems. Want to know more? Check it out at the MEMIC Safety Experts Podcast. Peter Koch: Hello, listeners, and welcome to the MEMIC Safety Experts Podcast, I'm your host, Peter Koch, and work as a safety management consultant with MEMIC. So let me frame today's topic for you. Mixer's Slicers and Fryer's. Oh, my. We're talking about commercial kitchen safety hazards in the kitchen can take many forms. Some, like knives, meat slicers, fryers and grills are obvious. Others like curled up mats, spills, reaching heavy stock on high shelves and rushing aren't quite as obvious until the injury occurs. So today I'm speaking with Dave Darnley, safety management consultant with MEMIC, about commercial kitchen safety. Dave is part of our Northeast Loss Control team and is based in the Buffalo, New York area. Dave. Welcome to the podcast. Dave Darnley: Peter, thanks so much. Really appreciate you having me today. Peter Koch: Right on. So great to have you on the line here and talking to us about kitchen safety. One of the very actually, [00:01:00] it's a big part of what you do, but it's a small part of your experience overall. So really, before we dig into that topic I want to talk a little bit about that extensive background that you have in safety management. So you've got a master's in safety management from West Virginia University. You've got your CHSP and CPHA. So you're a certified health care safety professional and you're certified safe patient handling associate designations, as well as being certified in New York State as a workplace safety and loss prevention program consultant. Tons of education, but having talked to you over the years. We both know that education doesn't always bring practical solutions to the workplace safety problems. So tell me a little bit about your experience working with different companies and their safety programs in the field. Dave Darnley: Absolutely. Thanks, Pete. And thank you for mentioning some of the background and experience I do have. It's kind of funny. And looking at that. I might [00:02:00] have more designations that have expired than I have current ones actively. But it happens when you spend 30 plus years in the field. It's been it's been a fun ride, learned a lot and definitely worked with a lot of different types of companies, a lot of different kinds of businesses and industries that we get in and out of. So from that standpoint, I would say I'm very much a generalist, if you will. I interact with people in all different levels of the organization. So I may be talking with the line workers and folks in the kitchen that are doing the work. But it's probably middle management that's taking me around and showing me the establishment. But at the end of the day, we meet with the C Suite people and the owners and talk about what they have. So communication really becomes a really big key to what we do, being able to talk to folks at every level of an organization [00:03:00] and being able to come up with reasons that ring true to them as to why safety is so important. Peter Koch: Yeah, sure. And especially when we're talking about like hospitality, safety or safety within the restaurant and hospitality industry, there's a ton of frequency. So a lot of small minor injuries within the restaurant industry. Not a lot of huge ones, although there are some. So sometimes getting the organization to understand the impact that increasing safety or focusing on safety or integrating safety can be challenging. And you might you might convince the worker when in your walk around, but getting that, getting the rest of the organization to support the efforts of the worker or middle management really has to be integrated all the way through. So, yeah, that's a really, communication is a huge part of making safety functional, especially in the hospitality and restaurant industries. [00:04:00] Dave Darnley: Absolutely. Absolutely. And in doing so, I try to take a consultative approach to it. Peter Koch: Right. Dave Darnley: You know, I'm not going to come in as the safety cop. I'm not coming in as the health inspector. I'm not the OSHA inspector. You know, we want to try to get people to build really safety into their operations, much the same as they build in food safety, food quality. You know, safety should be an integrated, integral part of everything that they're doing. Peter Koch: Right. Shouldn't be that extra thing. It should be just part of their every day, their every shift function of what happens. And we're going to get into some of those parts and pieces as we dig into the meat of the topic today. But let's just talk about the pervasiveness. So there's some interesting stats out there about the restaurant association. So there's a group called the National Restaurant Association, and they have a fact [00:05:00] book that they put out every year. And they talk about the statistics and demographics of the restaurant industry itself and really some interesting statistics and I thought these would be interesting to talk a little bit about as we start to get into our topic. So they state that the 2019 fact book reports that nearly six in ten adults have worked in the restaurant industry. So let's just take us, for example. So I don't know about you, but I've worked in the restaurant industry. I've worked in multiple different parts of the restaurant and commercial kitchen industry side. How about how about you? Dave Darnley: I did. I did my first I'll call it real job after my paper route was working in a smorgasbord restaurant. Peter Koch: Oh no kidding. Dave Darnley: Yeah. Yeah. I started in the dish room. Worked my way up to I think you started with colds so you did the salads and things [00:06:00] of that nature and then desserts and then hot and then I went to the banquet side and whatnot. So I spent a couple of years doing that as a teenager, junior and senior year of high school. Peter Koch: Yeah, right on. right on. Interesting. So similar. I didn't do the smorgasbord thing but part of part time work as where I worked for an amusement park. So as I was looking for extra hours, I was a lifeguard in high school so I was looking for extra hours and I got to work in one of the concession areas making sandwiches. So when I didn't have lifeguard duty, when the pool wasn't open or the waterfront wasn't open, I was slinging sandwiches and cold cuts. So right , so and you talk about it's like your first job after your paper route. The other statistic there is one in three Americans got their first job experience in a restaurant. So that's pretty, pretty close to you and I as well. And I imagine that there's some listeners that have had that same [00:07:00] experience. The other interesting statistic is that one in three employed teens from the study work in the restaurant industry. So if you think about this, I mean, goes back to that first job that people have, it's a great opportunity. But the restaurant industry employs young people. It employs older people. It employs people across the generational spectrum, across the cultural spectrum. And so there's quite a few challenges just on the employment side when we start to think about how we integrate safety into the restaurant industry or the commercial kitchen, because there's a ton of different hazards that folks are exposed to. So think about your own experience, Dave, and just take me through some of the hazards in the commercial kitchens that you've either walked through or worked in. Dave Darnley: Sure, absolutely. [00:08:00] There's some that are obvious, I guess. Right. And we've already alluded to it a little bit, but certainly cuts folks that are using knives quite a bit, typically have slicers, can also have broken glass. So one of the things that we always look for when we go through a kitchen is do they have a procedure or a process for if a plate or a glass, something breaks in the kitchen. And basically that simply is to have typically a plastic bucket that's marked glass on it so that you can sweep it up and take care of getting rid of that, separate from putting it in, say, the general garbage, where there's going to be the plastic liner. And when you go to pull that out, you're going to make a mess and potentially have some other hazards as well. Peter Koch: Sure. You think about that for just a second, though, that's an interesting part, because you talked about broken glass and you can actually create a hazard, like you said, by taking that glass and putting it into the [00:09:00] wrong container. And how many times have you actually watched someone pick up shards
63 minutes | 9 months ago
Chainsaw Safety Tips and Training with Andy Wood
Chainsaw safety is more than just a pair of chaps and safety glasses. The PPE is only there to help reduce the effect of the mistake you make. To be a competent sawyer or to consistently use a chainsaw safely takes knowledge of the tool, the tree, and the environment. These combined with good body position, control of the saw, and saw maintenance can delver quality and productivity when you are working in the woods or in your yard. In this episode, I speak with Andy Wood, manager of Forest Products here at MEMIC about history of chainsaw and logging safety in the North East, how the industry has changed and different best practices that should be in place for any business, not just logging, that has someone running a chainsaw. Peter Koch: Hello, listeners, and welcome to the MEMIC Safety Experts podcast, I'm your host, Peter Koch. And today, again, we're recording from the studios of Portland Pod. They've got a full-service podcast, recording and production studio right here in South Portland, Maine. And if this podcast sounds good to you. Get a hold of Tanner down at Portland Pod. You might think that while chainsaw safety is important, it really doesn't apply to you or the company that you work for because you're not a logger or an arborist or in another forest products industry where folks use chainsaws every day. Well, don't skip this episode because chain saws are everywhere. If you have green space on your property and a maintenance group, chances are that there's a chainsaw in the shop or under your workbench. And even if you don't officially have one, someone on your team probably does. And it might have come out to expedite a project or to clean up after a storm at your workplace. So to address some [00:01:00] of those things, I'm with in the studio today with Andy Wood, safety management consultant for the forest products industry here at MEMIC. And we're going to lay out the reasoning for why chainsaw safety isn't just for loggers, arborist or property management teams. And in this episode, we'll talk about how chain saws have entered the workplace, steps that you or your team can take to assess the chainsaw uses at your company and how we help chainsaw users at any level maintain safe work practices in the field. So, Andy, welcome to the podcast today. Andy Wood: Well, thanks, Pete. It's great to be here. I think we both have a lot of experience we can share with our listeners that hope that they can learn the lessons the easy way rather than the hard way that we have in the forest products industry. Peter Koch: Yeah, totally. Like we've had many conversations over the years between the businesses that I work with in hospitality and the recreation field and certainly all the work that you've done in the forest products industry here at MEMIC. But even prior to you coming to MEMIC, you've had a lot of experience within the [00:02:00] forest products industry. So before we really get into it, tell me a little bit about your background and your history. Andy Wood: Sure. Right out of college, it came out of college with a degree in forest management and went right into the Maine Northwoods to work as a production woodcutter, really liked being on the production side of forestry and lived up, you know, up north, lived in the logging camps up along the Canadian border for 11 years, worked up there as a production woodcutter, started my own logging company towards the end, and then got involved with training when our first logger state training program, certified logging professional program started. And then when MEMIC was formed in 1993, I was asked to come and work with their book of business in the logging industry. Peter Koch: Right on. So you've got history not on the insurance side, but you came like a lot of us here at MEMIC. You've actually come from the industry that you serve now on the insurance side. So you bring a lot of practical experience and have seen a lot of changes within the industry itself. So before we get into some of [00:03:00] that, let's talk about the real reason why we're here to talk about chainsaw safety. And let's think about the hazards that the chainsaw poses and some of the things that happen when you're in the field using a chainsaw and injuries occur. So what are some of the things that we need to worry about from an injury standpoint? What are the common injuries that come out from chainsaw use? Andy Wood: Sure. Well, one of the first breakdowns, you know, as a safety consultant we do on injuries is frequency and severity. And the injuries that we see the most are not really specific to the chainsaw. They're really across the board that a lot of different industries will see. So slips, trips and falls and overexertion. So that would be your back shoulder arms, muscles, soft tissue injuries. Those are really the two most common injuries we see and then eye injuries right after that and when we move. So those injuries are happening all the time, not usually life threatening, not usually as severe. We move into the severity side of those. What we see the big injuries are from. And those are a little [00:04:00] more specific to the chainsaw. Those are struck by falling objects, that stuff coming out of the trees, limbs coming out of the trees, being struck by the tree or dead wood falling in the work area or being struck by the chainsaw itself or chainsaw cuts. So those are the severe ones that we have the most serious of. Peter Koch: Sure. And there's a there's fewer of the severe ones, but certainly they're out there. You can see him all the time and then on the news. And then the thing that you might not think a lot about is those frequent injuries, the slip and fall injuries, the overexertion injuries. In our experience, you and I talking about this, you can tie it a lot of those right back to the chainsaw use itself. And it could be fatigue. It could be a tension. It could be a result of improper maintenance, improper skill set, improper training that's causing or contributing to the slip trips and fall or the overexertion. And we'll chat about some of those pieces, too. Andy Wood: Sure. I think, you know, having been a production woodcutter, I don't think the most physically [00:05:00] challenging job that I've ever done, particularly in the summer when it's hot or in the winter when the snow is deep and you're in an environment that's there's a lot of variables out there, you know, ground conditions and the forest, it's ever changing. So, yeah, just having the chainsaw out there is going to drive some of those, whether it's overexertion or slip strips and falls. Yeah, sure. Peter Koch: So let's talk about some of those severe injuries and. By the chain or struck by a falling object, and those can range from cuts and lacerations to fatal injuries, and some of those were actually happened pretty recently here in Maine. Did you want to you said you did a little bit of research on some of those, the severe chainsaw injuries prior to coming here today. So can you talk a little bit about that? Andy Wood: Sure. I'll go back historically for the logging production loggers are our most fatal situation there was struck by during the felling process. So as soon as the trees started to move, something was coming out of the canopy. You were struck by falling limbs, falling dead wood. You might be struck by the [00:06:00] tree itself or struck by the tree after it bounces off the ground. So that was our number one cause of a fatality. And while we've moved away from that pretty substantially with the logging population, we did have actually three fatalities this past year in Maine, all during chainsaw tree removal process. And the limited knowledge that we have, we didn't get to do really detailed background investigations. But based on what the state troopers put out in the media; they are very similar. They are all people. All three of these folks were struck by the tree that they were cutting and died as a result of it. So we're still having some of those big injuries. Peter Koch: And where were those fatalities? They happened to people that were actually working in the logging industry or these sort of ancillary tasks that they were doing from a different industry. Andy Wood: So they were production woodcutters. They were kind of, I would say, on the fringe. They were people who did use the chainsaw regularly and they were being paid to cut wood, [00:07:00] but you wouldn't call them production woodcutters. And that's really where we see chainsaw operation today. Not so much with the production chainsaw operator, but, you know, one was an excavator, so and he was doing site prep, you know, house lots. So he cuts a little bit of wood and then does the excavation for that. So he's in a chainsaw off and on regularly. One was a homeowner, the other two were kind of part time woodcutters. And so that's really the trend. We see a lot of the big injuries we've had and these recent fatalities were for people on the fringe of the industry. Peter Koch: Right. So we're not actually seeing the same type of severity coming out of the logging industry. And we'll talk a little bit about why that happened. But we're seeing some of the more serious injuries coming out of, like you said, those the fringe industries. So it's people that will be using a chainsaw on an ancillary basis. Might be once a week. It could be once a day. But it's not day in, day out every day, every week, throughout the entire season, like you would if you were a production woodcutter or working in the forest products [00:08:00] industry all the time. Andy Wood: Oh, that's exactly right. You know, in the early days with my time at MEMIC, if an injury involved chainsaws in trees, that would usually come my way. And they were all production woodcutters. You know, later in the 90s, I started to see kind of a transition injuries, wood, chainsaw, tree and type injuries would come across my desk and they wouldn't be l
68 minutes | 9 months ago
Safe Patient Handling part 2 with Rob Sylvester and Laurette Wright
From slips and falls and musculoskeletal injuries to quality of care issues, safe patient handling and mobility poses challenges to caregivers across the world. According to OSHA, in 2017, nursing assistants had the second highest number of recordable musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) cases with more than five times the average for all industries. OSHA attributes these trends to repeated manual patient handling activities. Just having a program on the books is not enough. In this episode, Laurette Wright and Rob Sylvester, both Safe Patient Handling and mobility experts here at MEMIC, join me to explore a SPHM program’s components and what makes them succeed or fail. Peter Koch: Hello, listeners, and welcome to the MEMIC's Safety Experts podcast, I'm your host, Peter Koch. Back in June of 2020, we dropped the first of three episodes dedicated to exploring the safe patient handling dilemma. And then episode I spoke with Lauren Caulfield, director of the Atlantic Region Loss Control for the group. And we unpacked the safe patient handling problem focusing on costs for patients and providers, as well as the history behind MEMIC Safe Patient Handling Program. You can check it out at MEMIC.com/podcast#HealthCare in today's episode. We're going to explore the dilemma from a slightly different angle. Looking at it from the outside in or a consultant's view, as the adage goes, sometimes it's hard to see the forest through the trees. And when you're close to a problem, it can be difficult to see its whole shape with the challenging topic, like patient handling and mobility. You just can't look at it from the middle. You have to see all the edges. So working with someone who has a deep understanding of the benefits and challenges of safe [00:01:00] patient handling can be invaluable when setting up or evaluating your program. So that said, on the line with me today to help us further define the patient handling problem and look at what makes a program succeed or fail, are Laurette Wright. And Rob Sylvester two safety management consultants here at MEMIC and both experts in safe patient handling. Laurette is a recognized practice leader within the Safe Patient Handling and Mobility Community. She's presented safe patient handling strategies internationally, across the country and at the state and local levels. She's a contributing author of the book The Illustrated Guide to Safe Patient Handling and Movement, and has penned numerous articles published in trade journals, including the International Journal of Safe Patient Handling and Mobility. Laurette is a registered nurse and holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, as well as a Masters of Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has credentialed as a certified occupational health nurse and [00:02:00] certified safe patient handling professional Laurette came to MEMIC in 2016 to be part of MEMIC's health care team in our Atlantic region, focusing on safe patient handling. Laurette , welcome to the podcast today. Laurette Wright: Hi, good morning. Thank you for having me. Peter Koch: Right on. And then, Rob, Rob Sylvester has a wide range of experience in the health and safety field from military, manufacturing and emergency management to health care teams and special needs populations. He works with company leadership to provide tools necessary for workplace safety success. Rob retired in 2017 after twenty five years of active duty service in the Navy. His last assignment was Command Master Chief of the Navy Operational Health Support Unit in Portsmouth, Virginia. He is responsible for all enlisted matters and provided guidance to the commanding officer for the nearly 600 sailors at 14 detachments in six states. Rob has an associate's degree in occupational environmental [00:03:00] health science and a bachelor's of science degree in health sciences. He is a certified environmental health technician by the National Environmental Health Association and a certified safe patient handling associate. Rob came to MEMIC in 2013 and is a leader with our health care team and our northeast region. Hey, Rob, welcome to the podcast today. Rob Sylvester: Good morning, Peter and Laura, thanks so much for having me. Looking forward to today and sharing some great keys to success and where we can help clients make some improvements. Peter Koch: Yeah, right on. So I'm really happy to have you both on here. And like I started, we talked about this particular problem with Lauren back in June. And then we were looking at this in a three part podcast series, really looking at it from the perspective of what's the problem? And then now having you on looking at it from the perspective of a consultant looking from the outside to the inside, like, what are the edges of this problem look like? And how does that compare with what maybe [00:04:00] the hospital leadership sees? And then what are some success stories? So let's start with this. So, Rob, let's start with you first. What was your experience with patient handling prior to coming to MEMIC both personally and professionally? Rob Sylvester: Hey, Pete, thanks for the opportunity. Prior to coming to MEMIC. As you said earlier, I had a varied experiences out there, different industries, but really with patient handling. It started with a special needs population, cerebral palsy type population, where, you know, prior to calling it and formalizing safe patient handling, you know, we called it patient care. I had an amazing team of therapists that I worked with, direct care staff. You know, I was the risk management specialist there. And I'll tell you, I learned so much from them and, you know, putting the client or the resident first and realizing that it was making a safer environment for not only the resident but the employee and vice versa. So back then, [00:05:00] you know, it wasn't you know, this is a safe place handling program. It was how we did day to day care for the population. So that was kind of my opening to it. And the challenges that came with it of the behaviors, the acting out at the times when you're trying to transfer or assist with mobility and things like that. And then after that, it was actually interesting story, because years later I ended up working for a very large acute care or actually a health care network, which is actually when I met Laurette. Laurette was working for another company and assisting as a consultant to help us roll out a patient handling program. So I was responsible for patient handling, leading a team that was responsible for patient handling, for acute care, for ancillary services, for a long term care facility. And it was an amazing process that truly solidified. I'll call it my love or passion for helping clients improve their programs, because, as you said, I've walked the walk, the very difficult walk, the difficult walk of starting a program [00:06:00] and trying to get people on board. And through that process, as I said, that's where I actually met Laurette. And we started working together back then. And now, almost seven years later, I'm here at MEMIC and just loving life. Peter Koch: Right on. That's a great story and it really kind of shows how, you know, sometimes pardon the pun you might stumble on a passion for a particular safety solution. And in this particular case, you know, back in your history, you had some significant experience with developing programs and are bringing that expertise to us here at MEMIC, which is great. So let's throw this to you. So the same question to you. So what was your experience with patient handling before you came to MEMIC? We talked about some of it in the intro there, but let's talk a little bit more about that. So what's your experience with that, both personally and then professionally? Laurette Wright: Wow. It's been an amazing journey regarding safe patient handling for myself, one particularly as a nurse. So back in the day, [00:07:00] I, you know, managed and handled my patients manually. And I worked third shift. And for those out there who work third shift in nursing, you know, staffing levels aren't always the highest. So when I would have particularly a deceased patient, I would often have to try to manage and handle that person by myself and doing the post-mortem care. And I can remember even today, the brute force I had to use and how sometimes I felt really bad about the handling of that person, even though they were deceased. I didn't always feel like it was in the most dignified manner. But, you know, going forward years later, starting to experience some back difficulty and some back aches and also knowing then that it came with the job, it was the implied philosophy that that's what us as nurses [00:08:00] did. And so therefore, back in the day, I didn't really see it as an incident at the time. I just felt like that's how it was supposed to go. Peter Koch: Part of the job. Laurette Wright: Part of the job, and then moving years forward. And around 2000 back up a little bit. I evolved into occupational health and safety, focusing my efforts in internally to considerations keeping people safe and healthy said in 2000, I was contacted by a medical device manufacturer who specialized in patient handling to help design a consultative division or a unit to partner with their customers and helping them implement safe patient handling practices, but to do it as a process driven approach and not an event. And so that took me on the journey of seeing hundreds of acute care, long term care facilities. It took me on the journey of being [00:09:00] with national task force groups, as well as speaking in different countries. And the thing that's common across the nation is that manual handling of patients is manual handling of patients that nobody, there's no sweet spot or magic for how we do that unless we have some tools to help us. On a personal note
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