Let’s face it: Sometimes saying “no” is a lot easier than saying “yes.” When it comes to workplace modifications – modifying manual lifting and handling tasks specifically – it’s easy to fall into the “no, we can’t” trap. Far too often, employees who perform tasks at the expense of knees, backs and shoulders fade away into disability when those body parts fail or degenerate.
It’s time to remove barriers to productivity and shift our mind-set to “yes, we can.”
Guided by a positive outlook, we often can discover ways to perform a task mechanically and keep an employee on the job. We get so many rewards from our work, including independence and a sense of accomplishment, not to mention our bread and butter. It seems a shame to sacrifice those benefits because an employee is no longer able to perform a particular task.
A recent example from an on-site Workplace Possibilities program highlights this.
A university professor underwent shoulder surgery and was concerned he would not be able to return to his job because much of his job required heavy lifting. Rather than assume the only solution was for him to stop working and receive disability benefits, we adopted a yes-we-can attitude and reimagined his workplace.
We took a number of steps to ensure the professor could continue working, the most important of which was finding an ergonomic equipment vendor. The company designed a device geared toward the professor’s needs. The result was a $4,000 mechanical lift that did the lifting for him.
It’s remarkable when you think of the difference this has made.
- This professor has been able to stay at work and not retire at a too-young age.
- The university retained a valued employee who, because of his reputation in his field of study, was a draw for new students.
By shifting the mind-set from “it’s impossible” to “let’s examine the possibilities,” the workplace was reimagined, a positive outcome was achieved, money was saved and students at this major university remained under the tutelage of this highly valued mentor.