Starkey Labs Wins 2010 Award for Innovative Work Comp Program That Includes Rolfing® SI

Starkey Laboratories, Inc. of Eden Prairie, Minnesota has earned the 2010 Governor’s Award for Innovative Measures in Workers’ Compensation from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council. Here is a 1997 video clip about Starkey’s program from WCCO TV.

Starkey Laboratories has 1,760 U.S. employees and is a world leader in the design, development and distribution of comprehensive hearing solutions.

To combat the rising number of repetitive strain injuries that are common in the light electronic assembly and administrative work of the company, Starkey incorporated conventional approaches for eliminating musculoskeletal injuries, such as encouraging stretching exercises, increasing job rotation and providing adjustable, ergonomic workstations.

It also went beyond such approaches by securing the services of a Certified Rolfer™.

Starkey created a systematic approach, introducing employees to its on-site Rolfing® practitioner by starting with those employees who had active workers’ comp claims and were reporting pain. The focus was then expanded to those employees who had the potential for developing repetitive stress claims due to the nature of their job duties. Eventually, the company-paid service was expanded to any employee who was experiencing symptoms of discomfort or mild fatigue.

By focusing on injury prevention, employee comfort and the use of Rolfing, carpal tunnel syndrome cases have been virtually eliminated from the workplace—there have been six carpal tunnel claims since 1999, with an estimated savings of up to $20 million dollars.

Since implementing the on-site Rolfing program, Starkey’s workers’ comp claims cost has dropped from $150,000 a month to just $58,000 a year. (Nationally, $345,000 a year in claims is considered quite good for light electronic assembly.)

An unexpected benefit of the Rolfing program at Starkey is that its cost per hire is 50 percent of the national average. Starkey has higher retention rates than most companies in light electronic assembly and an easier time recruiting employees. Starkey believes their employees know they are cared about; an employee with fewer health issues has fewer absent days and wants to come to work.

© Carole LaRochelle, 2010.

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