United Farmers of Alberta
Case Study

Behavior changing wearables result in an 86% reduction in ergonomic injuries

General information

UFA Co-operative is one of Canada’s largest and most dynamic farm and ranch supply operations and petroleum distribution networks.

They believe that changing the movement behaviour of their workers is key to reducing ergonomic injuries and workers’ compensation claims and are committed to providing personalized attention and proactive strategies to enhance the long-term health and wellbeing of their workers.

Challenge

UFA has consistently developed programs, looked at online/face-to-face training, strategized new safer practices, -warm-up stretches; they've done it all. And although all these solutions have been beneficial, they found them to be short-term and unsustainable for the tenured or new workers.

Virginia MacKay, Incident Investigations Specialist & Senior H&S Advisor at UFA was challenged by their distribution center to come up with ways that could improve their claims history when it came to worker injuries. Specifically, at distribution, the claims typically were all about ergonomics, neck strains, back strains, and pulled shoulders.

After researching, UFA landed on the SoterCoach wearable technology solution offered by Soter Analytics.

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The Solution

The SoterCoach solution consists of a small self-attaching clip-on device placed either on the collar of a shirt for spine safety or connected to an arm strap for shoulder safety.

The sensors capture and alert the workers via real-time audible and vibration feedback of any high-risk spine movements including, lumbar flexion, rotation, static postures, repetitive movements, and identified any high-intensity movements. The shoulder sensor detects the cumulative risk of arm elevations, repetition, static, overexertion and hazardous pushing and pulling of the shoulder.

All movement data is fed back to a companion app where workers can view their own personal results and follow micro-learning manual handling tutorials. An online management dashboard provides insight to where the risks are in the organization.

The Results

In November 2021 UFA rolled out the program on their pickers, sorters, and receivers at their DC and then due to the resounding success, continued in their retail stores, yard areas, bulk petroleum and cardlock facilities.

The results have easily justified the program with the longitudinal data showing that in 2021, before introducing Soter, the number of injuries and claims was consistently increasing. In Dec 2021 after Soter was implemented, there is a plateau in both claims and injuries resulting in:

86% - Reduction in Ergonomic injuries

67% - Reduction in recordable workers' compensation claims (WCB)

43% - Overall improvement in the number of spine hazards per hour

This equates to a 86% reduction in total ergonomic injury costs* with an 11 x Return on Investment.

In addition to the direct cost savings for reduced WCB claims, UFA is also trending towards a reduction in their WCB premium, which is based on the last 3 years of claims.

Direct cost savings to UFA included:

- Reduced hazardous movements → reduced biomechanical risk → reduced risk of injury

- Reduced the cost of manual handling training

- Reduced the requirement of observation/supervision of employees

- Profiling of hazardous tasks (task risk assessment) for their further elimination

- Reduction of claims costs & lost workdays

Priceless contributions included:

- Reduction of claims costs & lost workdays

- Employee empowerment and autonomy

- Proactive insight into work done in the workplace

- Improved lifting techniques outside of work (24/7)

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Worker Feedback

“The Soter device I wore for the 10 days was great. In the beginning it would beep a lot but tapered off towards the end of the 10 days. I knew I was improving. It really did help me on how to bend properly and how to pick up things along with posture and twisting. It was good to see how well I did”.

“I truly believe that everyone should wear the Soter device because it helps you learn and understand how much pressure we put on our backs every day. The tutorials were a nice added touch with valuable information. I can now self-trigger myself when I am about to lift anything and it's all thanks to the device”.

“I found myself stopping when the device beeped to try to figure out what I was doing wrong”.

Data Insights

The data collected by the devices was displayed on an online dashboard for management and was able to show UFA what site, what departments and what job roles were at highest risk, and where to focus their attention.

Among other data, UFA found that in the DC, their pickers and sorters were the workers most at risk and poor bending, back twisting and repetition seemed to be the constant issue there. The data showed them exactly what area and which task was causing the high risk, so they were able to implement a tool to eliminate the risk and then obtain a comparison data report afterward.

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Let's talk!

Discover Soter Solutions in an online personalized demo and learn how you can:

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REDUCE INJURIES

Get up to 55% of reduction in back & shoulder injuries

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REDUCE LOST WORKDAYS

Achieve up to 30% of reduction in lost workdays

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IMPROVE PRODUCTIVITY

Ensure smooth operations and reduce employee turnover

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BOOST ROI

Minimize cost exposure while the benefits are demonstrated

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