A safety superstar is better than a daily Advil

It's Occupational Safety and Health Professional Day - do you know who's taking care of you on the job?? You better hope it's someone like Paul Wedyck, director of loss prevention for Schneider National Inc.

The first thing Paul did when he got hired by the Green Bay, WI-based trucking/logistics giant, which employs 13,000 people, was to hop up into one of their truck cabs and get a real feel for the drivers' comfort. He wasn't impressed.

So off Paul went off to a safety conference where he met a couple of ergonomists and convinced them to adapt their office chair system for truck seats. Atlas Ergonomics and Schneider worked together to come up with 11 adjustments for each driver (his/her personal seat depth, seat-back angle, seat slide, etc.) which were rolled out across the US and Canada.

Paul's advocacy to help prevent worker back injury has apparently helped the truckers a lot. "The drivers commented that they were feeling so much less fatigue; they reported many fewer aches and pains and said they didn't have to take daily Advil!"

Schneider claims the number of drivers reporting discomfort dropped by more than 47 percent within six months of the new seats being installed.

Tracking trucker wellbeing across the country

And now a dozen physical therapy centers have opened across the US as part of Schneider-owned truck stops. Their drivers now fill up, shower and get physio for aches and pains. The centers will also offer blood-pressure monitoring and help with sleep disorders, smoking, nutrition, family and personal issues. And Schneider even links all its trucker centers by electronic medical records system to track each drivers' wellbeing across the country!  (Thanks to BLR.com for giving me access to info on Schneider safety - part of BLR's CD titled  "What's New for 2007: Workplace Safety Trends to Watch, Training to Conduct, and Pitfalls to Avoid.")

I wish every company made the connection between profitability and best practices in occupational health and safety the way that Schneider has here! Management there understands that if their truckers are laid up with injuries or stress-related sick leave, they aren't making money - and that is bad for the company as well as the drivers!

What a concept, eh? Money spent on taken care of your workers mental and physical wellbeing leads to a stronger bottom line!!

So, to ask my opening question again: Who is taking care of safety at your company? Is he/she doing everything possible to prevent you from getting hurt or sick? If not, why not?

Good questions to seek answers for on Occupational Safety and Health Professional Day! (It's the second annual such day, as declared by The American Society of Safety Engineers.)

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