Efficiency threat: pain in the back
Back pain not only takes a toll on the quality of employees’ lives but affects workers’ productivity as well. Nearly one in four U.S. employees report experiencing lower-back pain, costing businesses $51,400 annually per 100 employees in lost productivity and medical treatments, a 2013 report by the nonprofit Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) found.
Lost work time and underperformance on the job (presenteeism) due to low-back pain costs employers $34,600 per 100 workers, according to IBI Chronic Disease Profile: Low Back Pain.
Employees with back pain are absent four more days per year than those without this ailment and have the equivalent of 4.4 more days of presenteeism annually. The cost of less work time and presenteeism makes up more than two-thirds of the total cost of low-back pain to employers, according to IBI, a workforce health and productivity research and measurement organization.
The components of the $34,600 price tag per 100 workers are as follows:
• Sick days: $13,100.
• Presenteeism: $8,300.
• Short-term disability: $7,100.
• Long-term disability: $4,200.
• Workers’ compensation: $1,900.
“Employers stand to benefit from understanding the extent of back pain in their workforce and helping employees prevent, treat and manage their pain,” IBI President Tom Parry told SHRM Online.
People with low-back pain also have an average of nearly five related conditions that complicate care strategies. The conditions that contribute the most to lost productivity are:
• Depression (29% of cases)
• Chronic fatigue (41%)
• Obesity (8%)
Treating back pain
Low-back pain can be triggered by a variety of causes, including strain, injury, congenital conditions and serious medical problems, such as a ruptured disc. Most back pain can be treated nonsurgically with medication and physical therapy. Episodes of pain can be prevented by using proper techniques for sitting, working and exercising.
Good starting points for managing the full costs of low-back conditions include:
Occupational therapy: In a number of studies therapy has been shown to reduce the time spent on temporary disability from work.
Positive expectations: Employees who are optimistic about their recovery from acute back pain have shorter work absences than those with a pessimistic outlook.
Counseling: Back-pain sufferers may also benefit from counseling and mental-health interventions.
Most cases of low-back pain can be resolved in a relatively short time with low-cost workplace-based interventions such as job accommodation.
“Assuming that all interventions offered are high-quality, a cost-effective strategy is to use a stepped approach to treatment beginning with workplace-based interventions, followed by more structured medical and vocational rehabilitation,” said Parry.
Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
© 2013, Society for Human Resource Management.
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Hyde introduces Painter’s Assistant
Southbridge, Mass.-based Hyde Tools introduced a product designed to reduce the painter’s time on preparation and painting.
The Hyde Painter’s Assistant is a multi-use painter’s tool that acts sort of like an extra pair of hands. Thecarrying handle for one and two quarter containers includes a magnetic bursh holder.
Also built in are a paint can opener, brush and roller cleaner, belt hook, putty knife/scraper and a garage tool hanger.
CertainTeed launches ventilation line
Strengthening its position as a one-stop-shop for complete roof solutions, Valley Forge, Pa.-based CertainTeed announces the introduction of seven new roofing ventilation products. Part of the CertainTeed Integrity Roof System, the new product line includes CertainTeed Ridge Vent, CertainTeed Rolled Ridge Vent and CertainTeed Intake Vent.
“We are extremely excited to introduce our new best-in-class ventilation products,” said Bob Gardiner, VP marketing for CertainTeed Roofing. “A quality roofing system features the proper underlayments, shingles and accessory products along with proper ventilation. Now we can proudly offer roofing contractors and distributors a single source they can trust to stand behind every important system component.”
CertainTeed Ridge Vent is available in 7, 9 and 12 inches with both filtered and unfiltered options. Each ridge vent is made of high-quality co-polymer to remain sturdy, nailable and flexible. Reinforced ribs provide greater stability and rigidity, imprinted slot guides ensure proper slot width, and nail holes and nail lines enable easy, mistake-free installation. The product line also includes a Class A fire-rated vent.
CertainTeed Rolled Ridge Vent, also available in filtered and unfiltered, is designed for use in roof pitches from 3/12 to 12/12. The product features a unique, virtually invisible profile that installs fast.
CertainTeed Intake Vent is easily installed on a shingled roof with or without overhangs, and can be used to supplement existing soffit or undereave vents. Internal baffles, drainage system and weather filter provide three levels of weather protection. The intake vent allows air to flow into the attic and helps prevent heat build-up and ice dams.
The products are designed with an external baffle to deflect wind and weather over the vent, creating low pressure above the vent to pull air out of the attic. Each vent comes in a black finish to blend with a variety of shingle colors and create a clean, uncluttered roofline, the company said.