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Work environment

Employee-involvement to ensure that fewer employees are worn out

Additional aids are necessary if social and health workers and bricklayers are to withstand working up until the age of 70. Unfortunately, too many aids end up gathering dust.

By Birgitte Dalgaard, , 10/1/2020

We must be active in the Danish labour market for several more years than previous generations. As it appears now, if you were born in 1979, then you can retire when you reach the age of 72. Despite this, it is difficult to get employees to make use of the already expensively purchased aids that are readily available to them.

The additional aids end up gathering dust instead of being used to remedy employees' worn out backs. A new research project is aiming to do something about this issue.

Professor Peter Hasle from the Department of Technology and Innovation and his colleagues from the Department of Sport and Biomechanics at the University of Southern Denmark will be able to investigate what employee-involvement means for the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace. Undertaking this research has been enabled by the financial backing from the European Agency for Health and Safety at Work of EU.

Many lifts every day

– An example could be wherein small dairies where during a working day, employees turn many pieces of cheese that can weigh up to 25 kilos per piece.

– The employees must be involved in the process of uncovering the issues there are with the lifting they do. Thereafter, they must choose the aids that could help them and can be used in their everyday work life, says Peter Hasle.

The result of Peter Hasle and his colleague's research work will be that in a year they will submit a report that contains recommendations to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.

Need for investment

According to the National Board of Health, seven out of ten Danes regularly experience pain and discomfort in their lower back, back, and neck. Collectively, these conditions are called musculoskeletal disorders.

– The effort that is put into improving work environments in Denmark needs strengthening. Industries and professions that are particularly exposed to considerable work strains need special initiatives in place to improve their working conditions, says Peter Hasle.

In 2018, he was a member of the Technology Council’s expert group, where, in a report, he stated that DKK 500 million must be invested in the physical and mental work environment if Danes are to work until the age of 70 or older.

Both the care sector and the construction sector are associated with a lot of heavy lifting, which takes their toll on the body.

Peter Hasle, Professor

To create an overview of the various work environment initiatives and practical examples, the researchers will dive into the collective scientific research that exists in the field.

However, the researchers must also go out into the field and monitor some of the physically demanding jobs that are present within Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises.

– Both the care sector and the construction sector are associated with a lot of heavy lifting, which takes their toll on the body. At the same time, experience tells us that investing in work environments is a low priority for small craftsmen businesses that typically tend to focus on the company’s bottom line.

Sustainable production

Peter Hasle hopes that in a year he will be able to submit some recommendations that will help equip small and medium-sized companies to invest in the initiatives that will help give employees, and thus the companies, the greatest possible work environment gain.

– I am a professor of sustainable production. It is important to recognise that the working environment is inextricably linked to efficient production. The most effective production also has a good work environment, says Peter Hasle.

Top photo: Lars Bahl/Ritzau Scanpix

Meet the researcher

Peter Hasle is a Professor in sustainable production at SDU Sustainable Production at the Department of Technology and Innovation. He primarily researches the integration of the work environment and productivity.

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