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Workers compensation insurer AF Group cut its budget for site safety visits by half in one year after introducing technology in 2021 that enabled on-site risk professionals to remotely gauge workers’ ergonomics to prevent injuries.
Once data is available, the insurer also expects to see a reduction in musculoskeletal injuries tied to the implementation.
AF Group worked with technology company TuMeke Inc. to create ErgoView, a program that enables on-site safety professionals to shoot video of workers in action — in such industries as manufacturing and construction — to spot troublesome movements and apply artificial intelligence to suggest modifications. Experts have long pegged musculoskeletal injuries as among the most common — and often most costly — in the workers comp sectors.
“ErgoView has helped to really limit those kinds of injuries, such as sprains and strains, that take people off of jobs,” said Sam Hosey, Lansing, Michigan-based manager of innovation for AF Group.
“ErgoView is a tool that helps identify unsafe work habits and practices, whether it’s lifting and squatting and twisting. It really helps to limit and mitigate some of those injuries,” he said.
Mr. Hosey said the pandemic helped spur development of the tool.
“Our folks were unable to get on-site to conduct these ergonomic assessments because they would normally drive to locations, fly into cities, and go into these facilities to look at the work habits and make sure things were safe,” he said. “During the pandemic, no one was moving anywhere. To have a remote tool like this, it was really kind of exactly what was needed.”
ErgoView cut AF Group’s travel budget for safety site visits from $1.7 million in 2019 to $843,000 in 2021, while adding six more site visits a month since the spring of 2021, he said.
Having set its sights on improving ergonomic practices in manual labor jobs, AF Group also saw potential in administrative, office settings, Mr. Hosey said. The company is working with San Mateo, California-based TuMeke to address ergonomic safety for people who sit and type for a living and are at risk for injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
The company is “digging into those fine motor skills now, where initially we were looking at those larger joints, the lumbar, knees, and arms and shoulders; now we’re getting much more into the weeds around hand positioning and hand movements.”