US-based companies are paying attention to the ergonomics of everyday tasks. Some, such as UPS and FedEX, are bringing in Athletic Trainers to help train employees in proper task-related movements to prevent musculoskeletal injuries. Others are offering select ergonomic products in company “stores.” The Coca-Cola Company has taken it one step further.
The company recently conducted a pilot study that looked at the integration of dynamic insole technology by SelectFlex (Alliance Design & Development Group; Matawan, NJ) into its ergonomic controls. The patented Variable Resistance Beam (VRB) technology in SelectFlex is a suspension system, which allows arch height and firmness to be adjusted at 3 different levels to dynamically lift the arch into better alignment to help correct structural anomalies, like overpronation or poor posture, realign foot bones, slow arch collapse, and reduce burdens on weight-bearing joints. Before taking the program enterprise-wide, the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) lead at Coca-Cola performed due diligence by implementing a pilot study at Coca-Cola’s plants in Honolulu, Hawaii; Paw Paw, Michigan; and Auburndale, Florida, to gage personnel adoption and assess potential health benefits derived from wearing the adjustable orthotics at work.
The trial enlisted a sampling of employees from each plant, placing particular emphasis on those whose jobs require standing for the majority of each shift. Groups represented a balance between men and women, primarily between the ages of 25 and 45. Other demographic criteria included occupation activity level (moderate to vigorous), shoe usage (work shoes or boots), foot arch characteristics, and preexisting health conditions. Among the trial participants, nearly half reported having ongoing health issues such as flat feet, lower back pain, and plantar fasciitis. Participants were instructed to wear SelectFlex insoles for a period of 2 consecutive weeks, then were surveyed and opinions documented. Of the 4 footwear options cited, most employees used the orthotic with a workshoe, with less than 25% using a workboot.
Results showed that nearly 100% of participants, regardless of arch type or existing conditions, noted a marked difference in support due to the adjustable arch insole. Of those, about 75% also reported that the insoles were comfortable to wear. Arch type played a significant role in participant response as 85% had what they classified as mid to flat arch, which is the range where SelectFlex support is most targeted. More specifically, 90% of participants, regardless of arch type, said they felt the support of the SelectFlex. Overall, employees gave SelectFlex a satisfaction rating of 4.2 out of 5.0 stars.
Based on the success of the pilot, Coca-Cola distributor representatives at Grainger are working on plans to supply SelectFlex insoles to employees along with work footwear.