March 15, 2011 |

Using TapRooT to Reduce the Severity of Ergonomic Illnesses and Cut Workers’ Comp Costs

I took over responsibility for HSE at a research, production, administration, and distribution facility that was having problems with ergonomic illnesses. These types of illnesses were especially troubling in our order entry and distribution areas. I had previously been trained in TapRooT® and knew how it could help people to quickly find root causes without the negative connotations usually found in investigations. Therefore, I thought that this would be an excellent candidate for a pilot program.


We licensed our facility and had System Improvements personnel train a core group of 25 investigators from the various organizational units that would be investigating these and other incidents. We then performed root cause analysis of the ergonomic incidents and implemented immediate corrective actions. One of the actions was to encourage earlier reporting of these injuries/illnesses.


Reporting of ergonomic illnesses increased by up to 40% in some areas. This was even higher than expected, but the early reporting of ergonomic illnesses helped us reduce the illness’s severity. By fixing the root causes and getting early treatment, we could avoid surgery. This was a positive step for employees and our company. The severity of ergonomic incidents for the entire facility was reduced while the frequency of reporting the incidents increased. The most dramatic improvement was in the customer service department. The severity decreased from 96.4 to 0.0 !
The impact of this improvement is significant. It means much less pain and suffering for our employees by fixing problems early – before significant injuries occur. Long term it also means reduced cost for ergonomic illness related surgeries and lost time during rehabilitation. This is reflected in the the cost of our self-insured workers compensation costs which we have saved on average over $1 million per year for the past six years.

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