Meeting Physical Demands

Meeting Physical Demands

Posted by Andrew Gaiennie on Jan 9, 2011 3:31 pm

How important is providing for the health care of employees? Should it be a minimum concern or a top priority? I'm talking about health coverage and providing for preventive care like gym memberships and wellness classes.

Re: Meeting Physical Demands

Posted by Mark Mayer on Jan 9, 2011 9:35 pm

Right now there is, like, 100% underemplyment among surveyors. So it really isn't necessary to offer "wellness classes" to attract and retain all the help you might need  - at least in the short term.

Long term- I don't want to be nanny to my employees. I'd like to be able to offer them enough that they can pay for gym memberships or "wellness training" (whatever that is) if they choose to. That said, certain health insurance providers are packaging those things with coverage and if it happens to be a good package at a good price....

It is important for my employees to be healthy so that they may be productive. But gym memberships and wellness training are already but to easy to obtain for those that would use. them. I doubt there is any value in me forcing these things on employees that aren't interested. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink.

What I'm saying is that it's a labor market driven thing. If the labor market demands it, then it will be important. Right now, there is a buyers market for labor.

Re: Meeting Physical Demands

Posted by Andrew Gaiennie on Jan 9, 2011 10:26 pm

Ya, that is true. All of my mistakes happen when I'm exhausted though, so I'm thinking there may be a reason to do quarterly fitness tests for field personnel. If I were in management, I'd include fitness as a bonafide job requirement and as an inclusion for promotions and advancement. The oil field has thoughs reqs already, maybe that's where I get it from.

We take safety courses down here on bad weather days that always include a health and wellness part. Drink water, dress appropriately,signs of exhaustion, first aid; that kind of stuff is what I think of when I say "wellness classes".

Re: Meeting Physical Demands

Posted by Mark Mayer on Jan 10, 2011 11:39 am

Well, that is quite another thing. While people are actually under the command and control of the employer, or his representative very much needs to see to the physical needs of his employees.  If he doesn't they soon will not be under command and control. Providing adequate opportunity for hydration and bathroom breaks are just basic human needs. You might as well try to keep them from breathing as limits these. 

In terms of safety obligations, the employer is required, by OSHA if by no other, to enforce certain prudent safety measures. If you, as an employer, have a prudent policy of not working in traffic without traffic control, for example, and a certain employee consistently works in traffic without traffic control, and you warn him about it but he doesn't stop, and you don't fire is a$$ after a couple of warnings, then you will be liable for the accident when it happens. Your argument that the employee failed to follow the policy will carry no water with OSHA, because you failed to enforce your policy. In OSHA's view your policy was, in fact,  to turn your back on safety transgressions.   

Re: Meeting Physical Demands

Posted by Andrew Gaiennie on Jan 10, 2011 12:47 pm

I've never seen a person get fired from a survey firm, which is something I find surprising. I've never worked more than 6 months for any one company due to school, so maybe there is something to that.

Can managers get too close to their employees? You mentioned getting penalised by OSHA for ignoring safty. I've seen that a few times where the field crew knew better than the safty manual, and I have the scars to prove it. The only reson I can imagine keeping certain people on is because you may feel like they are your frind first. Seems hard not to develop that kind of relationship though.

Re: Meeting Physical Demands

Posted by Mark Mayer on Jan 10, 2011 1:52 pm

Waiting too long to fire bad actors and underperformers is way more common than firing too soon, that's for sure.

I once sat in on a talk by Walter Robillard. He would emphasize points with the tag line "Why do surveyors do this? Because surveyors want to be loved!"  The point being that many surveyors tend to be lousy at business.

Re: Meeting Physical Demands

Posted by Andrew Gaiennie on Jan 10, 2011 2:24 pm

Surveyors are lousy at business. Its not all their fault, how is someone supposed to sell a survey anyway? I think I talked about how its not a normal commodity in one of my blog posts. Typical consumers(as I've known them) are buying our services because they have to for compliance and not because they see the value behind it. Its been my experiance to clean up more bad work from cheap "surveyors"(or contractor DIY types) than to be the first one on the job, mostly because they lose a man to illness and can't keep up the workload and the quality. 

Re: Meeting Physical Demands

Posted by MountainHermit on Feb 21, 2011 11:15 pm

Quarterly fitness tests?  Man, I don't want to work for you, Dude.  Sounds way too military.  If they are fit to do the job, they'll do the job.  If not, they will drag their butts and risk losing their jobs or raises or whatever.  Safety briefings?  Absolutely.  Always a good idea to let everyone know about safety.  As for firings, I've seen surveyors fired several times and I've been fired myself--common practice here, unfortunately, though the first guy I saw canned was in MD.  Usually, it's not about fitness or safety.  It's about those who don't show up to work or who get into it with the boss or the boss's favorite obnoxious party chief, or at the higher levels in mixed engineering & surveying firms it's housecleaning and power politics.  Glad I'm away from all that.  Yes, some surveyors get way too close to some of their employees to the point where they cannot see when those employees are using them, disrupting the workplace and/or doing a sloppy job.  It's a no win situation all around.  Personally, I like the idea of offering gym facilities or memberships to employees.  I was covered at one of the companies where I worked by a health insurance program that provided a gym membership for a very low price.  The gym that I joined as a result was a very good one and I definitely considered that one great job perk even though I didn't have much time to enjoy it.

Re: Meeting Physical Demands

Posted by MLB on Feb 22, 2011 12:15 pm

I think the original question was, how important is it? Most of the programs that are already in place in work groups are the product of research. Fitness has been proven to enhance productivity and vice versa. Way back a long time ago I remember people telling me "working in the field surveying was all the exercise you needed". Despite the fact working in the field sometimes requires both a lot of strength and endurance there are other issues.

Proper training with hand tools is more important than most think. Some of the disabilities I have seen field guys get are from repetitive use. Hammering stakes and nails can lead to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and rotator cuff problems. Knees are a big problem. I know this one personally. The sooner one gets introduced to proper techniques the better. Especially since there is so much static about raising the Social Security age.

I was lucky. Most of the places I worked had fitness facilities. But the professional support part of the wellness programs came later. My daughter, the Physical Therapist, loves to torture me by saying "If you would have had my training you wouldn't have all that arthritis pain today". She's probably right. But I can't go back and start over again.

A company can offer encouragement or even assistance. But ultimately, you are responsible for your own fitness. You only get one body. Take care of it.

Re: Meeting Physical Demands

Posted by Andrew Gaiennie on Feb 22, 2011 1:31 pm

Ya, those are my thoughts as well. The advances in tech decrease, but do not remove, the labor required. Advancements also mean working faster, and a lot of health and safety goes out the window in favor of keeping pace with the machine.

My experiences and projects show that keeping up with the machine is very physical demanding, even in an open environment. I think that company health policies need to become more thorough as more work is expected from the field crews. My big moral dilemma is the concept of eventually replacing the crew with more machines, or supporting the human element in our profession.