Chia-Chia Chang, MPH, MBA, NIOSH Office for Total Worker Health
Deborah Roy, MPH, RN, COHN-S, CSP, L.L.Bean
A Safety Redesign Jump-Starts Health and Well-Being for L.L.Bean’s Aging Workforce
At L.L.Bean, Maine’s quintessential outdoor clothing and equipment company, the workforce is growing older. Although advancing age improves problem-solving and teamwork skills, it also adds risk, especially for older workers with physically demanding tasks.
Acknowledging this truth helped L.L.Bean look beyond its established safety and health infrastructure, says Deborah Roy, MPH, RN, COHN-S, CSP, Corporate Director for Health, Safety, and Wellness. The company began taking decisive steps to optimize work processes and prevent injury and illness for all their workers, not only their older ones.
Unique Workforce Considerations
When people come to work at L.L.Bean, many become lifelong staff members because they know the company values its workers and embraces active living. However, low turnover means that employees who were hired in their 20s still have physically demanding jobs 25 or 30 years later.
With an average employee age of 50, L.L.Bean’s team shares many of the age-related challenges common in workplaces nationwide. Reduced flexibility of the neck and spine, lower grip and lifting strength, and limits to range of motion all become more likely as workers age. Older workers are also more likely to have one or more chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, and obesity. These issues make a focus on injury and illness prevention an absolute necessity.
Integration of Prevention
A materials handling worker at L.L.Bean demonstrates lifting techniques that resulted in L.L.Beans purchase and installation of robotic and vacuum-driven lift-assist devices.
Continue reading Promising Practices for Total Worker Health