Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are the most common and costly injuries in the workplace today. Proactive safety leaders are meeting this challenge head on and turning it into a valuable opportunity to make a difference within their organization.
Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome over two thousand years ago.
He faced countless challenges and obstacles as emperor. Barbarian hordes, back-stabbing politicians (literally) and extreme famine were the issues of the day.
As a way to maintain an even perspective and navigate through his challenges, he wrote a personal journal. Later, his journal was published and the wisdom contained in it is available to us all today.
Here is one bit of wisdom that I think applies to safety challenges in the workplace.
“Our actions may be impeded…but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
In other words, the obstacle is the way.
What Marcus Aurelius understood was that in any situation — no matter how bad it is — we have the opportunity to practice a virtue and turn the obstacle into an opportunity for growth. Obstacles can provide a path to enlightenment we never would have seen without the challenge being in the way.
In the face of safety challenges, we have the opportunity to practice the virtue of being proactive and intentional. To prevent injuries that are unnecessary and can be prevented.
If MSDs are an obstacle at your facility …
… you have an opportunity right in front of you. The obstacle is the way.
MSDs are common and costly injuries, and they can be demoralizing for the safety team and for the team members in the facility who see another teammate go down.
A comprehensive MSD prevention process, on the other hand, creates a virtuous cycle of positive momentum for safety teams. Not only that, the elements of the MSD prevention process can add significant value to your business as a whole.
A few weeks ago I wrote about the many benefits of a comprehensive ergonomics and MSD prevention approach. A rising tide of MSDs may be the reason you implement a comprehensive MSD prevention process — but you’ll sustain these efforts over the long term when you begin to see the results bring more value to your organization than just a reduction in injuries.
Discover your MSD prevention opportunity
So what is the size of your MSD prevention opportunity? If you do face a rising tide of musculoskeletal injuries, it’s important to see and understand the opportunity in front of you.
We’ve created a simple Prevention Opportunity Calculator you can use to discover your organization’s MSD prevention opportunity.
As an example, consider a facility that has $250,000 in annual direct costs of MSDs and their organization’s profit margin is 5%.
In this example, direct costs of $250,000 also cause $300,000 in indirect costs (using an indirect cost ratio of 1.2) bringing the total cost to $550,000. At a 5% margin, the organization has to generate $11,000,000 in revenue to cover the cost of MSDs.
That’s some serious damage to the bottom line. The numbers also demonstrate the value of a comprehensive MSD prevention process.
By partnering with an onsite injury prevention specialist, you can reduce direct costs by 78% within four years (on average). Reducing direct costs by 78% in this example saves the organization $429,000 per year.
Over three years, that’s a cost savings of $1,287,000.
Over five years, that’s a cost savings of $2,145,000.
This is just an example, of course, but I hope you can see the value in prevention. And I hope you find the calculator useful in making the case for investment into a comprehensive MSD prevention process.
The path forward
You might not have to face barbarian hordes or extreme famine like Marcus Aurelius did. But if the data is any indication, MSDs are likely an obstacle in your path. If that’s the case, dealing with this obstacle is the way to better safety, productivity, quality, employee engagement, and culture in your organization.
You have an opportunity in front of you. What will you do with it?
“The impediment to action advanced action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”