AtlasWork™: Breaking Things

When we began the development of AtlasWork™ our goals were simple—we wanted to break a number of things, including:

1.    The communication silos that often exist between Human Resources, Safely/Loss Prevention, Operations, and Workers’ Compensation regarding the requirements of the work.
2.    The historic paradigm surrounding how ergonomics analysis and solution development can occur.
3.    The outdated and often inefficient return-to-work model used by countless organizations.
4.    The barriers to sharing accurate and current data between facilities, with corporate staff, and with outside subject matter experts.

In March 2013 we announced our initial release of AtlasWork™, and since then the application has exceeded our expectations with the number and types of environments it is used within. Since our AtlasWork™ 2.0 release in August, 2018 and our upcoming 2021 3.0 release, we believe it is a good time to reflect upon our original goals and client feedback.

Breaking Silos

We developed AtlasWork™ because we did not like seeing Human Resources pay for the development of functional job descriptions, Safety/Loss Prevention pay for ergonomic risk analysis, Operations focus only on the operational aspects of the work, and Workers’ Compensation guess about return-to-work job placement options. From our perspective, the solution seemed simple since all of those teams and activities begins with the physical requirements of the work.

In this area we exceeded our clients’ expectations in two ways:

1.    Our experience shows that often the single biggest obstacle to defining the physical requirements of the work is finding the time to gather and input the data. Our online real-time approach reduces the amount of time it takes to complete a job demands analysis by half. In addition, we have simplified the process so local resources, both employees and outside subcontractors, can gather and enter the data with limited training.
2.    We often find that historic data is paper-based and lives on a shelf in the Human Resource department. Through AtlasWork™ Human Resources, Safely/Loss Prevention, Operations, and Workers’ Compensation are provided easy access to current job requirement data allowing for more accurate decision making.

Ergonomics Analysis and Solution Development

There are some in the industry that approach ergonomics analysis as if it is the same as hiring a high-priced attorney. Clients pay exorbitant hourly rates to gather data, complete an analysis , and develop solutions. Often clients even pay those same costly rates for travel time. From our perspective, ergonomists are not high-priced attorneys, and AtlasWork™ was developed to minimize if not avoid costs.

In this area we exceeded our client’s expectations in three ways:

1.    When physical demands data is entered into AtlasWork™, it is configured in a way that automatically populates ergonomic risk anaysis tools. Therefore, clients do not need to pay twice—once for functional job descriptions and once for ergonomics risk analysis.
2.    We do not use proprietary ergonomics tools that require specialized training or a licensing fee.  We use standard well-established and accepted industry tools, keeping things simple and straightforward.
3.    Once demands data and media is uploaded, in many cases ergonomists can analyze the information and provide solutions to reduce risk remotely.  By doing so, we help avoid travel- related costs and professional fees.

Return to Work

We still find too many clients who place injured workers in a low-demand temporary position to keep them working and out of the way. Especially in today’s economy, it is critical to find productive work for these employees. AtlasWork™ was designed to mathematically find the most productive options and identify where gaps exist.

In this area we exceeded our client’s expectations in two ways:

1.    When an employee returns to work with restrictions, those restrictions can be input into AtlasWork™ and compared to the job demands of every job within the facility or within specific departments. By doing so, the employee’s capabilities are used to quantifiably identify if they can return to their job with or without accommodations, or where they can safely work elsewhere and be most productive. If they are not 100% ready for their current job, the analysis can help clearly identify rehabilitation goals.
2.    When a strong relationship exists between a company and occupational health provider, the company can provide controlled online access to job requirement information to support better decision making about a plan of care and whether an employee can safely return to work.

Sharing Current Data

Often it is hard enough to get teams within a facility to share current data on job requirements, injury risk, and program performance. When we designed AtlasWork™, we thought broader and considered the potential value of sharing that same data with other facilities, corporate staff, and external subject matter experts.

In this area we exceeded our client’s expectations in three ways:

1.    “Current” is a critical word since working with data that is not current provides limited value.  AtlasWork™ is designed so the organization is reminded to update the physical demands of a job when ergonomic solutions are completed or on a client-set general update schedule.  Accuracy is crucial to prioritize ergonomic injury risk and to support the return-to-work process.
2.    Corporate staff members can act like air traffic controllers and monitor the direction and performance of each site’s injury prevention program. They can look at a program performance dashboard or begin to peel back the layers of the onion. Best of all, they can do it when and as needed.
3.    Getting the most out of external subject matter experts means providing them the best data possible for them to complete their job. AtlasWork™ allows clients to decide who gets access, what they can see, and if they can only view or if they can view and edit the information. Our clients provide access to ergonomists, medical professionals, case managers, and have even used the information within workers’ compensation arbitration hearings.

After looking back over the past eigh years, we are very happy with what we see. If you are interested in breaking things within your organization, please contact us. We are confident you will like what you hear.