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What will the next generation of safety professionals look like?  Will they fly around on hover boards?  Will they don PPE which includes a hard hat and safety glasses with built-in sensors, notifying them exactly where and what safety rule/regulation is being broken and the quickest route to get to that area? All joking aside, maybe one day we will be at that stage, but until it becomes a reality, the next generation of safety professionals are going to have a very interesting role to play.

As industries move closer towards automation, employees will find themselves moving around less and performing certain job functions at a lower rate. And yet as many work environments transform to this more stagnant nature of computer screens, mobile devices and endless meetings, the next generation of safety professionals will still have to know all local, state and federal requirements.

What is really going to transform and become a major role in their day is ergonomics.

To be honest, ergonomics itself is going to transform a lot in the future as well. It will still involve the basic anatomical postures of the human body, but it also focus on human movement and how it relates to employee health and safety. How often do we hear about someone who tripped over a chord on the floor, or tripped over a chair? Maybe someone hurts their back picking up a notebook they dropped, or straining their shoulder while reaching for something at their work station. Have we ever thought that maybe the continually growing stagnant work environment could be a cause to some or all these serious and inexplicable incidents?

If you are about to go for a run, do you literally get off the couch and start running? We would hope your answer is “No.” What we normally do is get up, warm up, through some form of movement or stretching. Once we feel adequately “warmed up,” we begin our run. The next generation of safety professionals will be focused on keeping employees safe and healthy, by keeping them moving. They will provide proper ways to warm-up before a lift and the proper way to lift. They will provide movements and stretches to perform every hour or so if employees are bound to an office chair most of the day. The daily routine of performing these stretches and movements will help to keep joints and muscles mobile and strong, so if an employee does trip over a chord, they will be able to catch themselves more times than not and will be less likely to strain body parts performing routine tasks, going home each day safer than when they arrived.

If you have any questions regarding ergonomics or are looking for ways to improve productivity in your workplace now and going forward, please contact me at 919-459-5243 or jstewart@ei1.com.