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Liberty Mutual Insurance
Liberty Mutual ErgoValuator
Lifting, pushing, pulling or carrying items without practicing sound ergonomics have contributed to more than $13 billion a year in medical and lost wage payments, according to Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.’s latest Workplace Safety Index, which was released in 2020.
“This (risk) hits just about every industry, from manufacturing to hospitality, hotels, construction. ... Just about every industry has movement of materials,” said Craig Karasack, Pittsburgh-based product director of ergonomics and manufacturing tech for Liberty Mutual. “The No. 1 injury is handling objects.”
Such was the catalyst behind the insurer’s “ErgoValuator,” an app introduced in July that enables employers to film a worker’s posture while completing tasks and uses artificial intelligence to provide corrections. The app is winner of a 2021 Business Insurance Innovation Award.
In minutes, after submitting video to the app, the program provides tools to identify movement modifications that can be applied to reduce the risk of injury.
The app also provides opportunities to input biometrics, such as height, and the force applied to an object to gauge risk and recommend movement modifications, said Mr. Karasack, who helped develop the app.
For example, the app can tell someone evaluating a task whether, if an item being lifted were lighter or if the person didn’t have to reach too far, the risk of injury could be mitigated, he said.
As part of its marketing, Liberty Mutual features a real-life example of a risk manager at a large retailer who asked how much difference it would make in risk if the warehouse used elevated pallets for heavier products so that workers wouldn’t have to bend down as far to retrieve them.
A traditional analysis took multiple visits and lasted a week, according to Liberty Mutual. It later applied the ErgoValuator
and quickly determined that raising products by two pallet heights, about 10 inches, would cut the injury rate by 4-6%.
“In the hands of an ergonomist, it can be extremely helpful in change management,” Mr. Karasack said.
Dorothy Doyle, Boston-based general manager of risk control services for Liberty Mutual, called the app “the next step in the evolution of evidence-based tools.”
“This allows quick evaluations, quick engineering … to hopefully avoid injuries,” she said. “This can have an impact across industries given the breadth of that kind of loss, or injury.”
Restrictions on in-person collaboration during the COVID-19 pandemic do not seem to have stifled innovation in the insurance and risk management sector.