Employee health a prime focus at Processing Plant
It’s Rob Fontaine’s job to teach people how to move better. For the employees at Mowi’s Port Hardy Processing Plant, it is not just for productivity, but to enjoy a better life.
Fontaine is the Principal Consultant for MoveSafe, which has been contracted to help prevent strain and sprain injuries (musculoskeletal) that can come with repetitive movement occupations.
Kathy Baker has been the Primary Processing Manager at the plant since 2011, and is Mowi’s lead with the MoveSafe program, which started in 2016.
“The program consists of warm up/stretches that we do twice daily, once early in the morning and once in the afternoon,” she explains. “The crew is encouraged to stretch whenever we have a stop on the floor (called micro-breaks).”
Baker notes that new hires do sessions with one of MoveSafe’s Certified Athletic Therapists, Ashley Cross, where she guides them individually with specific exercises to suit their body types and work.
“The program is ongoing, and we have MoveSafe at the processing plant twice a month,” she adds. “If we have an employee that is sore or hurting, they will have sessions with Ashley to give them guidance on stretches, special taping and posture, just to name a few.”
Fontaine is impressed with Mowi’s commitment to employee health, adding “This approach is reflected in the care that Kathy exhibits with every employee.
He notes MoveSafe was able to collaborate with leadership to develop a customized approach that fit in with the critical operating demands of a processing plant.
“There were already a lot of key elements in place such as job rotation and workstation adjustability where practical,” he says. “With our help, the processing plant has implemented some important improvements.”
The current program involves:
1. Warm-up. The goal of the warm-up is to practice proper movement patterns so employees are more likely to complete their job tasks with healthy postures and movements.
2. Recovery. Employees are encouraged to take brief recovery exercise breaks throughout the day as production allows.
3. Ergonomics. The maintenance group has worked with MoveSafe to implement recommended changes to workstations that allow for adjustability so each employee can set up the immediate work environment to match their physical abilities.
4. Coaching. In addition to healthy posture and movement coaching on the production floor, interested employees are able to access the expertise of Ashley Cross for specific concerns. The goal is always to teach employees how to take care of themselves and use their work to stay strong and healthy.
“Employees feel better at the end of their shift and can better enjoy their life outside of work,” Fontaine says. “They understand better how their body works and can make their own good decisions about posture and movement, and have more physical resilience for work – which helps everyone work together to accomplish the safety, quality and production goals.
“Employees positively influence their friends and family with the importance of posture and movement for all our daily activities.”