By DAN REYNOLDS, senior editor
Those who attended Stephen Bennett and Cynthia Roth's double afternoon session, "Soup to Nuts: How to Handle a Claim From Injury to Return to Work," found their best stride late on Thursday afternoon when they were asked to break into groups to study and diagnose films of industrial working conditions.
Working from the floor of the Las Vegas Hilton's Barron Room, Bennett, a principal with the Safety Consulting Group, based in St. Charles, Mo., organized the attendees into 11 groups as Roth, the CEO of the Syosset, N.Y.-based Ergonomics Technologies Corp., directed the action from the Barron Room dais.
In one video, an aging African-American worker used a pneumatic tool to cut the thick paper packaging from a vendor's shipment. Problem is, according to the alert professionals in the breakout groups, the worker wasn't wearing ear protection, he was a using a tool that looked dangerous, he wasn't wearing a mask to protect himself from paper dust and he was working within two feet of some metal caging that looked like it had every chance of dropping him to the concrete floor if he backed up.
Lung difficulties from the dust, back problems, leg and foot issues from standing on concrete, and the head injury that the worker could suffer if he tripped were just a few of the issues the Soup to Nuts breakout participants were forecasting.
In another video, two men were seen working on a concrete floor rolling an 800-pound roll of paper. The clip only ran for about five seconds. But those attending the session saw plenty to worry about.
The short solution that several attendees came up with? Automate the process so that the company didn't risk one of the workers getting run over by the roll of paper.
The video films of working conditions were simple and short, but the gift of the afternoon breakout session was that it got 80 professionals who at first were staring passively at a presentation to start interacting with one another, put their professional hats on and challenge each other's ideas.
Roth is not a reserved personality. "I want to hear some noise," she said when the breakout groups were first formed and were uttering their tentative hellos.
Before long, you heard not only conversation but your heard debate, you heard laughter and you heard the sound of innovation as people worked together to find solutions.
The advertising mantra "What Happens in Las Vegas Stays in Las Vegas" would not be well applied here. Here's hoping the spirit of fun and engagement that Bennett and Roth brought to their afternoon session on Thursday is repeated elsewhere and soon.
November 20, 2008
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