Ergonomics vs. Bionomics
The difference between ergonomics and Bionomics is that the focus is not on the physical environment (ergonomics) per se, but on the proper management of the body. Bionomics was conceived as an answer to the prevalence and high costs of work related sprain/strain type injuries. It is said that 80% of the population will experience a back-related injury in their lifetime.
Back injuries, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and other injuries of this ilk, now termed musculoskeletal disorders, cost U.S. industry $60 billion per year. Lifestyles of millions of people are affected by the pain and discomfort of these unnecessary injuries. Attempts to prevent these injuries in the past have mostly gone unrewarded.
The modification of one's physical environment and the use of mechanical assistance have helped to lessen the exposure to physical stress for many employees. However, musculoskeletal disorders continue to plague our workplace. In healthcare alone MSD's represent over 60% of the workers compensation costs in most hospitals.
FIT decided to find out why this problem had gone unabated and to create a solution that could put a person in charge of their health rather than remain a waiting victim of a serious injury that could affect their life forever.
The first question was why are sprain/strain injuries so prevalent? If we can teach an athlete to perform amazing physical feats such as performing a backflip on a balance beam that is four inches wide and four feet off the ground and do it with grace; if we can teach a four-year old how to swim; and we can teach a medical student how to perform brain surgery; then why could we not train someone how to lift a tool box correctly or another to position their workstation more safely?
It is safe to say that keyboards or boxes or wheelbarrows have never attacked anyone, yet they continue to cause injuries; or do they? What is the real source of sprain/strain injuries?
In trying to answer this question we noticed something so pervasive it actually has gone unseen. We, as a society, have never truly been taught how to correctly use our bodies while doing activities of daily living! Think about it.
Have you ever noticed your daughter or son lifting something improperly? Do you notice people at airports lifting luggage off the carousel while twisting almost every time? Do you see fellow office workers not using their $500 chairs as was intended? From grade school through college through our professional lives this fundamental education, of how to properly position our bodies while conducting life's activities, has been omitted.
Observe the office worker extending their arms (15% of their body weight) to reach for the keyboard and mouse; observe the mother lifting her baby; observe the child lifting their backpack; observe the truck driver sitting, exiting the vehicle and lifting loads; observe the nurse repositioning the patient; and observe travelers lifting their luggage at airports, and you will find one basic thing in common.
We do not perform activities of daily living correctly, which cause, like the ocean's waves on the sand, a slow innocent change in our structure. Back injuries, Carpal Tunnel, and other sprain/strain are mostly caused by innocent frequent stresses that add up over time. Ignored, the subtle and sometimes not so subtle, physical warnings (pain) accumulate and become exacerbated by repetitive activities, sustained postures, and other factors experienced on and off the job.
The lack of fundamental training on how to use our own bodies correctly results in innocent physical stress, which over time leads to the costly cycle of discomfort, pain, injury and quality of life issues. No wonder 80% of our population experiences back pain and our workers comp costs are prohibitively high.
The Solution is Bionomics
It has been thoroughly proven, by dramatic reduction in work related injuries, that employees can learn how to be responsible for their own physical well-being. A workable training methodology has finally been developed.
Employers do not want their employees hurt, unions do not want their members injured, and employees do not want to be in pain. There is no conflict of interest.
The body is not an inferior product; we just never learned how to use it properly.