Erie Insurance Group

State: Pennsylvania
Company: Erie Insurance Group, Erie, PA (Headquarters) & 21 locations
Industry: Life Insurance - SIC Code: 63
Employees: 4,106
Success Brief:

After establishing an ergonomics program, this mid-sized insurance company achieved a dramatic reduction in lost workdays and a 50 percent reduction in workers' compensation claims for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

The Problem:

In 1989 Erie became concerned when it experienced four work-related cumulative trauma disorders so severe they required surgery -- the first cases that were so serious.

The Solution:

The company physician and registered nurse (R.N.) spoke to executive management about the problem and were charged with developing an action plan. The program they developed and implemented included: an educational forum to explain to the employees the importance of early reporting of symptoms; evaluations of employee workstations by their R.N.; early referral of employees with symptoms to the company doctor; and the institution of regular hourly exercise stretches. Over the years, the company's ergonomics program has continued to expand, including the following:

  • Trained at least one or more supervisors in each branch office to be the ergonomic analyst in their branch to work in conjunction with the R.N. at the Home Office in evaluating workstations and directing employees.
  • Composed a symptom history form for each employee to complete if they are experiencing symptoms. This is then reviewed by the R.N. to determine if the employee needs to see the company physician.
  • Composed a workstation evaluation form to assist the R.N. and two health specialists who perform workstation evaluations.
  • Hired a physical therapy consultant to be available when the company physician is onsite to see employees with cumulative trauma disorder. The combination of physician/therapist has assisted in relieving symptoms so that very few employees miss work time.
  • Offered ongoing educational forums to employees regarding changes to the program and encouraging exercise stretches.
The Impact:

After establishing their ergonomics program, this mid-sized insurance company achieved a dramatic reduction in lost workdays and a 50% reduction in workers compensation claims for work-related MSDs. While the rate of work-related MSD injuries increased initially before decreasing (due to their emphasis on early reporting), the drop in injury severity, lost days and compensation claims was immediate.

  • Company submission; Updated October 2002, Susan S. Robinson, RN, MSN, COHN, Erie Insurance Group.