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Safety and health innovation and programs

Read the latest on innovative products and advancements that could help shape the future of safety and health in the workplace.

SHIP

SAIF’s Safety and Health Innovation and Programs (SHIP) is exploring ways to assist policyholders in their injury prevention efforts by identifying problems and seeking out ideas, products, and processes that could be part of solutions. Contact us at safetyinnovation@saif.com.

    2021

  • Watch SAIF webinar on exosuits in the workplace

    December 20, 2021 — SAIF’s safety and health innovation and programs (SHIP) team is improving occupational safety and health by expanding knowledge and delivering value.

    By Sarah Ballini-Ross, project manager

    Back injuries in the workplace cost a great deal of money and pain for workers and employers. In the past five years, SAIF has received more than 29,000 back injury claims. More than half of those involved lost workdays – implying more severe injuries. This data supplied a clear path for SAIF’s Safety and Health Innovation and Programs (SHIP) team to explore new ways to reduce back injuries.  

    So, what's one way to address them? Enter the exosuit. You might think of Robert Downey Jr. as Ironman or Sigourney Weaver in the film Aliens when you think of exosuits. The real-life versions aren't as flashy as Hollywood's, but they aren't science fiction anymore.

    Unlike rigid exoskeletons with motors and mechanical parts, soft exosuits like the HeroWear Apex aren't designed to enable wearers to lift more weight or otherwise increase their strength. Sorry - no Ironman here! Rather, they are designed to reduce stress and strain on the back and make workers feel better at the end of a hard day's work. The SHIP team wanted to know if workers would be willing to wear these devices.

    SAIF partnered with four policyholders in industries with a high risk of back injuries (construction, agriculture, and retail business) to determine whether workers would use the exosuit. The four policyholders were Bailey's Nursery, Coastal Farm & Home Supply, Western Partitions Inc., and Whitaker/Ellis Builders Inc. Each policyholder selected 10 employees and identified use cases to test the exosuit for six weeks, providing SAIF with feedback about using the exosuit. Information was collected from employees through four surveys and multiple interviews throughout the learning launch.

    Generally employees were positive about the exosuit. They found it worked best for tasks that required bending and/or heavy lifting. Adoption is highly dependent on the job task, the use of conflicting gear/PPE, and heat. There are jobs and tasks in which the exosuit we tested is useful in its current design and others where further iterations of the technology will be required. The feedback collected during the learning launch resulted in improvements to the exosuit design to resolve issues identified by employees.

    Across the board workers and businesses shared a sense of pride from being part of this learning launch and partnership. Here are just some comments we heard from participants:

    · “It's been a good experience and I'm glad to have gotten to test the suit. After addressing the thigh sleeve issue, suit is much more comfortable.”

    · “I enjoyed the opportunity and experience. Everyone was fantastic to work with, collaborative, and positive.”

    · “It was exciting to be a part of the process. It's like working in the future.”

    If you want to learn more about the learning launch findings, tune into our upcoming webinar, Exosuits in the real world on Thursday, January 6 at 10 am. While the webinar is free and open to anyone (not just SAIF policyholders), we ask that you register ahead of time. Watch the recorded webinar.

    Curious about using exos in your workplace? Contact us at safetyinnovation@saif.com to learn more.

  • How a 100-year-old company is on the cutting edge of safety innovation

    December 6, 2021 — SAIF’s safety and health innovation and programs (SHIP) team is improving occupational safety and health by expanding knowledge and delivering value.

    By Sabrina Freewynn, safety innovation manager

    I love my job. Every day I get to work with an amazing team to tackle challenges that will make a difference for real people working at real companies. I’m the manager for the Safety and Health Innovation and Programs (SHIP) team at SAIF. We are focused on improving occupational safety and health with companies across Oregon.

    SAIF has been around for over 100 years. Often, we want to be perfect before we roll something out with our policyholders. But in my team’s work, perfection is not the point; learning is. We learn best by turning to people who are already doing the job and asking questions. For us, the question is “how might we make this job safer?” For our policyholders it’s also got to be “how might we make this job easier, faster, more productive, or solve another problem we are having?” When we find something that addresses both safety and productivity, we know we are onto something good.

    We are launching this blog to share the information we learn about cutting edge safety technology and technology that improves safety — even if it was originally designed to do something else. Our hope is that it sparks your imagination and gets you asking questions like “how might we use this at our worksite?” and “what would make this even better for our business?”

    We also want to learn from, and feature, you! What kinds of technology do you use that makes work safer or healthier? Are there big challenges you wish something could help address? Not all safety innovation involves technology. We want to know about insights and ideas you use that might be helpful to other companies. Write to us at safetyinnovation@saif.com.

SHIP

SAIF’s Safety and Health Innovation and Programs (SHIP) is exploring ways to assist policyholders in their injury prevention efforts by identifying problems and seeking out ideas, products, and processes that could be part of solutions. Contact us at safetyinnovation@saif.com.