"Senior discount?" - "Thanks, I think?"
Well it happened; I went to the cashier and I thought she under charged me for my meal so I said, "I think you made a mistake. This item should be $15.99 but you charged me $14.40, so I owe you $1.59 more." She looked at me and smiled as she said, "That was the Senior Discount." She bubbled with satisfaction for her generosity being noticed.
The problem is that I did not qualify for the discount for two more years so correcting her math made both of us smile awkwardly. Being pegged for being older was fun until about the age 29 and after that I knew I was entering OLD age and that my peers could no longer trust me. More germane to ergonomics is determining at what age is a person to be considered an "older worker".
You may stop laughing at my age phobia when I tell you that according to the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) "older" applies to anyone over "40".
Topics from the Journals and Websites
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that 25% of all 65-74 year olds are still active in the workplace. This percentage will continue to grow. The National Safety Council (NSC) in 2007 reported that the large return of older workers to the labor force is due in part to better overall health of the workers, insufficient retirement funds and/or, in many cases, the desire to gain new experiences.
Dr. Gregory Petty from the University of Tennessee stated at the NSC Congress and Expo in 2007 that, " 'old' does not have to mean tired, sick, cautious or quiet." He continued, that older workers offer great value in skills and experience to employers but also have greater risks. He added, "If you have a fall when you're 20 you have a bruise... if you fall at 50, 60 or 70 you have a broken hip."
Determining the balance between maximum productivity vs. physical safety limits for the older worker can be a valuable service that the ergonomist can offer. By defining and eliminating Primary and Secondary Risk factors as well as being able to manage the Duration, Intensity and Frequency factors of a job, the ability of an older worker to be successful at their job is improved.
Back School of Atlanta News
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Back School of Atlanta is now looking for co-sponsors for live courses in 2010. The courses are targeted to groups including Occupational and Physical Therapists, Safety Professionals, Risk & Claims Managers, Human Resources Professionals, Occupational Medicine Professionals and Nurse Practitioners. For information on co-sponsorship of a course, please contact Back School of Atlanta for details. Otherwise, watch the website for courses scheduled.
The Government Corner
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that more than 25% of the workforce will reach retirement age by 2010. All Baby Boomers reached the age of 40 in 2004. (U.S. Census Bureau defines Boomers as being born between 1946 and 1964). The significance of that fact for today's ergonomist is that the number of potential replacement workers behind the Boomers is substantially smaller and this bodes poorly for having a full complement of workers into the next decade.
Fewer workers will mean that the retiring workforce will have a smaller pool of workers paying into Social Security and Medicare and that will stress the already debt ridden system even further. Those of us who have been paying into the Social Security system since the early 60's will face reduced compensation from the government, delayed payments or both.
The BLS states that number of workers who are 55 or older will increase by 49% between 2004 and 2014. The entitlement programs that are being generated by the government will have a negative effect on most Boomers who may face the real possibility of needing to work well into their 70's. This will be the challenge for the ergonomist who has to accommodate this ever-enlarging aging worker population.
One of the major considerations for the aging workforce is the lower capacity for sustained activity. When the limits are reached fatigue sets in and productivity decreases and errors increase. As such, the ergonomist must use ergonomic principles to design or re-design tasks to decrease the risk of fatigue. To help the ergonomist determine whether the older worker may be at risk, the following measurements should be included in the analysis of performance:
By determining these values on selected physically demanding tasks, a better level of function without over stressing the worker can be reached and recommended. If you do not have training in taking these types of measurements, you must defer to a medical professional.
- Heart Rate (above 100 BPM indicates aerobic level of function.)
- Blood Pressure (139/89 is the maximum reading for pre-hypertensive cases. If a worker reaches this level they should be referred to their physician.)
- Individual perceptions of stress. This 3rd metric can be ascertained using such tools as the BORG Scale of perceived patient exertion. A chart is placed in front of the worker while doing a physical task and they rate their perception of exertion. Values of 7-9 reflect light work, 13-17 is hard work and anything above 18 is considered maximum exercise capacity. Readings in the 14-16 reach correlated with the anaerobic threshold.
Did you know…?
By the time you turn 70, your heart will have beat some two-and-a-half billion times (figuring on an average of 70 beats per minute.)
Boost Your Ergonomics Consulting Business
The Back School of Atlanta is pleased to announce the launch of a new service - the Certified Professionals listing on our website, for all of our past graduates aimed at helping grow your ergonomics consulting business.
We will list your name and the city and state of your practice/business for one year. We will also include a link which will allow potential clients the ability to email you without seeing your actual email address and, if you choose, your contact phone number. You can also apply to become a Premium listing so that your expanded listing will always appear at the top.
After the first year, there is a quick recertification process to continue your listing on our site as a Certified Ergonomics Professional.
For more information, please click here.
Let us help support you and your business.
Director Back School of Atlanta
Ergo Websites, Ergo Products, gadgets and doodads
Multi Lens Cheaters
As eyes change with age, having a small pair of reading glasses, called "cheaters" are helpful to read the small print of paper or dials. However in many work environments safety glasses are required but it is hard to get a comfort fit for reading glasses under a pair of safety glasses. Improved vision can improve the posture of a worker trying to read small print.
This product combines these two items into one pair of cheater safety glasses that can adapt for any light conditions. Pop in the gray lenses for glaring days on the job site or yellow lenses for low-light and overcast days. Pop in the clear lenses and you've got cheaters for inside the shop. All lenses are durable polycarbonate that's up to ANSI Z87.1 for impact resistance. You can choose Diopter corrections you need. This product can be found in many specialty tool stores. These are from the Duluth Trading Co. and sell for $32.50.
This newsletter produced in association with ERGOCATION, LLC.
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In this issue:
• Topics from the Journals and Websites
• Back School of Atlanta News
• The Government Corner
• Ergo Science
• Did you know...
• Boost Your Ergonomics Consulting Business
• Ergo Websites, Ergo Products, gadgets and doodads
Upcoming Back School of Atlanta Workshops:
LEVEL I: Ergonomics Assessment Certification and Musculoskeletal Disorders Prevention Workshop
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Portland, ME - Dec. 11 - 12, 2009
Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Jan. 29 - 30, 2010
LEVEL I: Functional Capacity Evaluation Certification
Passaic, NJ - Jan. 22 - 23, 2010
LEVEL II: Solutions for an Aging Workforce Certification Workshop
Augusta, GA - Jan. 22 - 23, 2010
Robert Niklewicz, PT, DHSc, CIE, CEAS
Ronald W. Porter, PT, CEAS
Director, Back School of Atlanta