Your transformation PODCAST

Creating Synergy Podcast

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Ep. 6 – Proactive or Reactive? Injury Prevention When Working from Home – with Roy Papalia

Intro:

Welcome to Creating Synergy where we explore what it takes to transform, whether you are transforming yourself, your team, your business, or your community. We’ll connect you with insightful and challenging leaders who share their stories of successful transformations to give you practical ideas for your own journey. Join us for another insightful episode of Creating Synergy.

Daniel Franco

So welcome to the creating synergy podcast. Today we’ve got a little bit of a different type of episode. Today we’re focusing more on the health of returning to work and injury prevention. We’ve got Roy Papalia, today who is an exercise physiologist by trade and a workplace rehab specialist. He has over 15 years of industry experience and he runs his own business called Allied Health Consulting. Allied Health specializes in injury prevention, injury management, and they have a strong focus on the movement of human body. So, thank you very much, Roy, for being here today

Roy Papalia

Great to be here. Thank you.

Daniel Franco

So, how did you get into this world? Give us a little bit of background? It is an interesting world. 

Roy Papalia

So, I’ve been involved in the workplace rehab sector for a variety is predominately under national providers, and it was very much driven by billable hours. see as many clients as you can over, over a day or week, try and do as much as you can. I feel a lot of the interpersonal relationships were lost, it felt so, I come from a background in exercise physiology, and we had a really good opportunity for myself to be a pioneer in South Australia as an exercise physiologist to engage in workplace rehab services. So I was one of the first to deliver functional capacity evaluations in USA as an exercise physiologist, so I was the first to go out deliver a worksite assessment as an exercise physiologist, it was often physiotherapists, occupational therapy, finding that service. We allowed for my kind to engage in this service and it’s now an actual topic in the undergraduate degree. So, we made some good pathways on that end. But always feel that the concept of myself as an exercise physiologist and engaging with a client was lost, we suddenly called a client and a patient, a worker. So that interpersonal relationship definitely was lost.

Roy Papalia

I stopped trading as an AP, and became more of a workplace rehab consultant. And I felt that that connection with the patient was lost. So, I decided to pull back, get back onto the tools as an exercise physiologist, and just focus on the basics, which is interpersonal relationships, and that’s where I developed my company called allied health consult. And what we mainly focus on bridging the gap between a lack of communication between treaters, and other stakeholders. So, it’s not just a trader with their client, but it’s a trader with the employee. The trade with the insurance, a trade with the doctor insure a trader with workplace rehab consulting, that information wasn’t occurring, I guess the client was lost. So Allied Health Consulting is about consulting with everyone. And we started to move from the whole consulting side of things back into a few other additional services that I felt that we could offer that would help us build the business. And that’s when we decided to implement the movement service which is focusing on functional movement, functional restoration work conditioning programs. We then added on safety consulting, which is focusing on workplace orders board, its risk mitigation, and then what we have coming up in the next couple of months hopefully is the wellness consulting, which is going to be a wellness studio. So, we’re hoping to have an onsite, wellness studio that allows for us to offer a variety of support services.

Roy Papalia

So not just exercise and movement, but we’re looking at other options, massage therapy, reiki, all those type of complimentary services. So that’s exciting.

Daniel Franco

And so, what just for everyone listening and exercise phys, exercise physiologist, their core function of that is movement. So, people who are not moving like what’the background?

Roy Papalia

So, we were always regarded as the younger brother of physio.

Daniel Franco

Yeah, the long-lost cousin.

Roy Papalia

Yeah, yeah, with a little. We get the leftovers at the end. Yeah. So, so physio therapists, a predominantly focus on, you know, the acute injury treatment. Occupational Therapists focus on, you know, occupational recovery. Returning to, you know, not just occupational but movement like upper limb, etc. upper limb movement, upper limb function, something that was lost as a result of injury, task or movement habits. What we focus on is that is that movement physiology so we, physiotherapists generally treat musculoskeletal injuries where exercise physiologist by trade can treat a variety of chronic conditions not just a back injury, but cerebral palsy, stroke rehab. So, we’re specialized in providing a tailored exercise program and functional restoration program based on the condition and its safe parameters when it comes to movement and function.

Daniel Franco

So, when you say chronic, is that you mean

Roy Papalia

Something that’s existed for over six months

Daniel Franco

for a long time?

Roy Papalia

Yeah, that’s the definition of chronic, it’s something that has gone from acute phase to chronic. So, a chronic back injury is something that has been consistent for at least six months, and it hasn’t gone away.

Daniel Franco

So, I think a big part of the reason why we wanted to get you on today was to really discuss the world that we’re living in at the moment. They’re working from home. We’re seeing, well, I think how this podcast started I guess was really about me having problems with my back and my hips and everything like that just from sitting at my desk all day. I’m no longer at the office, we’re working from home and then you know the old starting at eight, finishing at eight at night time, longer hours because you feel like you can do more work and less breaks and less walking and all the above. So, you came over and you helped me out with a few exercises. You also told me to set up, sit-stand desk and got me a new chair and did all the right things for me there which is great. What are you seeing as a current trend right now? In this world? Are you seeing more and more people calling you or businesses calling you because their people are suffering or is this something that businesses should be starting to think about in the background?

Roy Papalia

Yeah, I think what we’re presented with at this particular point in time is the approach that visitors feel like sending their employees home is enough, enough to cater for COVID-19. Enough to reduce the risk of COVID-19. Before we even got into the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot involved in the requirements for an employee to be eligible to work from home. There was a lot of assessing.

Daniel Franco

Yeah, the company I used to work for the only way we could work from home was if…

Roy Papalia

you had to be assessed and had to make sure you had the appropriate ergonomic setup. The appropriate ergonomic equipment. That’s been lost, because the COVID-19 pandemic has overtaken, and we’ve just not been able to do it. The volume of that has surpassed its requirement. So what we’re seeing is the unfortunate by-product of employees going out, bringing the laptops, bringing the computers bringing the keyboards, taking it home, and they’re left with some basic information on how they need to set the workstation up. And they’re working in different areas. It’s not a desk.

Daniel Franco

Yes. It is a Kitchen table. Well, the thing is, is families are going home and they’ve got a husband and wife both working from home who gets the desk, right, who gets the office space since who’s [inaudible] we had this conversation before on a previous podcast. But it’s really interesting because when you’re sitting at a kitchen table, you’re in a little 15 inch screen. And yes, sort of hunched over looking at the screen all day long. It can cause some issues [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Yeah. And what we’re seeing is those issues developing into discomfort. And we start to focus on early intervention. And what we need to understand is discomfort is the first point that we need to start thinking about early intervention and avoiding that discomfort from developing into an injury or a condition. So, what we’re seeing again, employees are starting to become a bit conscious on how much they need to hop up. So, they don’t want to be presented as an employee that is causing issues from working from home and with COVID-19 and the uncertainty over the future, their jobs, job certainty, it is questionable. So, they don’t want to hop up. They’re just, you know, going back to a [inaudible] starting to work, like you said, eight to eight.

Daniel Franco

I think that’s a really interesting point for businesses, though, in the sense that the communication of actually speaking up is critical, because they might end up with a whole bunch of claims on there [inaudible] after that, because regardless whether the employee speaks up or not, the injury will still occur, therefore the employer is liable. How does it work?

Roy Papalia

Yeah, well, right now there is a bit of a shade of grey. So that realistically when you look at, let’s just say South Australia, so with the return to work SA legislation, there are two types of injuries that are set. There’s a physical injury and a physical injury stipulate if it’s accepted as liable by the employer, then needs to be, work needs to be a significant contributing factor.

Daniel Franco

So is that like you’re at, you’re at work, you fall down the steps.

Roy Papalia

Yeah. And your result in a physical injury at work, you wouldn’t have had that injury result as a consequence of work. If you had a back injury leading in and you have back pain, commence your job. And there’s no increase in back pain, but you decided to put a claim in, work has not aggravated that back pain, there is a pre-existing non-work related [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

Hence the reason why we have medicals before [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Yeah, and medical pre-employment functional assessments, medical assessment. Then you look at a psychological injury, that’s a bit different. It needs to be determined as work being the only significant contributing factor. So if individuals have a pre-existing anxiety issue or depression issue, and they put a claim in for a psychological injury, possibly because of stress, something in the workplace has occurred, the risk of it being accepted, suddenly reduces because Is it an aggravation of saying this pre-existing or is work the sole contributor? Now, unfortunately, in situations where, you know, paramedics are exposed to significant trauma, that’s a different scenario. But when you’re involved in a high demanding role, where you’ve got anxiety and stress process-driven, and it is a stressful job, it’s going to be hard to have a claim accepted.

Daniel Franco

Oh, really?

Roy Papalia

Yeah, because the best you can look at is possibly an aggravation of a pre-existing [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

Okay, so do workplaces SA or work [inaudible] Return to Work SA are they more inclined to side with the business or the person who’s claiming?

Roy Papalia

Both

Daniel Franco

Both

Roy Papalia

So, it’s a process to determine and what they often do is accept the claim provisionally. So we term it provisional liability, so if there is a psychological claim where there’s a lot of stuff attached to it, so could be a workplace bullying and harassment claim, or a progressive, depressive claim board stress, workplace stress. That will put the banner of provisional liability, which pretty much says that, okay, whilst we’re determining over the next few weeks next few months, we’ll accept your claim, will accept [inaudible] time, we will accept an equal expenses, until it’s determined. [inaudible] determined and deemed accepted, as in the employer is the reason why, [inaudible] then we’ll continue to provide you with income support if there is lost time, medical and or like expenses. Yeah, if it’s deemed not accepted, so work is not the significant contributing factor, then the provisional liability will stop. They don’t know anything, so the worker doesn’t anything to return to Work SA they’re just [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

So, it’s a sort of a small win there for the time in your month off [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

A couple of weeks off. I will sit down and talk to a psychologist. Yeah, few sessions.

Daniel Franco

So, if we digress, sorry, you said there’s a few different types of injuries, so what was the other one? [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

So physical injury and psychological injury. So, the shade of grey scenario is, what stipulates a physical injury. It’s something that is attributed to work being a significant contributing factor. So if you are working from home, and you were to slip on a wet floor, or if you were to hurt your back while working in front of a workstation, where there’s a poor backrest, then it is a physical injury that has resulted as a consequence of [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

Is it based on work hours, though? So, we’re working from home in COVID-19. And they decide at lunchtime They’re going to go out into the backyard and do some gardening. And while they’re doing that, they put it back out. What is that? That’s a grey area that [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Yeah, it is because it’s dependent on whether the worker will say, working [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

or I’m working, it’s during work hours sort of thing.

Roy Papalia

Well [inaudible] is work, the tributing factor, are they actually going to report that they hurt their back whilst working in the garden because then we’re presented with the next scenario, the blanket idea that workers comp equals untouchable, particularly around job insecurity. So what we’re also seeing and what we need to be mindful of is and I’ve seen it with employees that I work with, suddenly claims are starting to like, not necessarily claims but claims that need to be determined are starting to increase. Because when you’re on workers comp, the, the way things are calculated, it’s called notional weekly earnings. So it’s a calculation of The last six to 12 months of what your average weekly earnings are,  now suddenly people who have been slowed down or might be in a one week every four weeks where jobs keeper payments, less than what their average weekly earnings are. They’ll do their research and so we’re getting into positions where people are full security putting claims in and hope that it doesn’t get accepted, because a claim necessarily will last for up to two years

Daniel Franco

But in the in the process, at least they’re getting a month that their average [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Well it could be fine, you know, as long as there’s last time it can continue on for up to two years [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

Well, so that’s something that all employers should be aware of aware of.

Roy Papalia

Yeah. And you need to back the determination process so when it comes to Return to Work SA, they’ve got two kinds of agents, they’ve got employees mutual limited and Gallagher Bassett services, so they have liability offices. They have Claims assessors. So, they have specialists that go in and determine what the client claim is and determine its acceptance. But it’s very easy for a worker to say that they’ve hurt their back while working in front of a workstation versus God.

Daniel Franco

So can they turn around and say ‘I’ve developed…’ you know, we talked about chronic injury, chronic being six months, so they can’t turn around and go ‘I’ve developed a sore back just from sitting at my desk at home.’

Roy Papalia

It’s, well, an injury is an injury, so whether it’s acute or chronic, it’s still an injury that is a consequence of work. So, a chronic injury is an acute injury that remains persistent. So, what we’re seeing if we move away from gardening, and we [inaudible] towards what happens when you’re sitting at work, we’re seeing musculoskeletal injuries, and that is the generally acute injuries by nature. So, the injuries that will subside with appropriate treatment and intervention, and we’re seeing something wrong. What I’m seeing a lot of is back neck dominant upper limb injuries. Where there’s a mouse, you know, yeah, they’re the areas that are more exposed to that degree of repetition. When you combine that with an incorrect posture, because of a poor workstation setup, that’s resulting in an increased risk. And we’re veering from discomfort into pain. And that’s why we need to go in before discomfort.

Daniel Franco

I think this is what you and I… this is why I called you actually was the simple fact that I was in pain. [inaudible] I was waking up in the middle of the night where my back was, I was in agony. It was, I was not sleeping well because my back was sore. And it all started just from sitting at home.  So, the stand-up desk at the moment. It’s been absolutely amazing. I’m sleeping through the night now. Which is and that’s amazing how quickly the difference is though.

Roy Papalia

And that’s because a sit-stand workstation has worked for you. You move. Yeah, you move around a lot. As you understand what your role is. Yeah, you’re moving around quite a bit. taking calls making calls. A sit-stand workstation needs to be used appropriately as well. Its term is a sit-stand workstation. So, you don’t want to be standing for consecutive hours. We’re not generally used to standing to work so and it goes back into movement. The whole concept of a sit-stand workstation is to promote so you want to be regularly rotating between sitting standing.

Daniel Franco

But even just the setup forces you to sit up a bit straight as opposed to hunching because it brings everything forward. So, you don’t even have a chance of [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

And it helps out when…it allows you to minimize the use of a wooden chair. With no back support. It’s quite heavy, quite hard to sit on. So, so we were looking at The three main areas that I see a definitely your next set like your neck, your back and your dominant thing and I say dominant upper limb because that’s predominantly the limb that you use to not only scroll with a mouse but drink your coffee with, drink your water with, you know making take a phone call with so we’re seeing that repetitive, sustained overuse of your dominant upper limb.

Daniel Franco

So, what’s the suggestion? What do you what do we say to people? Now they get up every half hour? Is it as simple as that or associate workstation? Make sure all the [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Combination, yeah, it’s not one size fits all. It’s based on individual circumstances.

Daniel Franco

So, you are interested in doing that before it even begins to hurt. We need to [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Yes, early intervention is much more effective than injury obviously.

Daniel Franco

Yes, definitely.

Roy Papalia

So, we’re definitely looking at Okay, well, how long can you sit for before you start doing uncomfortable? Is it two hours? 80% of that. So maybe you had about that hour and a half Mark, you want to proactively get up and move around or change your posture, but you want to get up and move around before you feel uncomfortable. If you feel uncomfortable, and then you decide to react to that, it’s unfortunately too late. You’ve already triggered a reaction. So, we want to figure out okay, well, how long can I sit for? How long can I stand for? How long can I keep for? How long can I remain on my phone for before I start to feel uncomfortable, you want to pull that back and change that task and change that posture at about that 80% and with that, you want to move so when we look at movement, the reason why movement is such an integral component of any… predominantly any sedentary work tasks, behaviour, is because it counteracts what is the issue when it comes to sedentary work. And that’s a lack of movement. So, when we don’t move our muscles fatigue much more quicker. When we don’t we start to fatigue much more quicker. And when we don’t move, we start to feel uncomfortable, quicker and the muscles are stronger when they move. So, if you’re not allowing your muscles to move, they’re going to fatigue much more quicker.

Daniel Franco

I heard a quote once “to rest is to rust”. And it just stuck with me. That was probably more aimed around exercise and everything like that. But if you’re not doing anything, I think your body just needs to move [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

And when you look at the physiological changes associated with a sedentary work behaviour, when you don’t move when you’re not active, your bone density starts to reduce, your muscles start to deteriorate. So that is, that is proven evidence base physiological change associated with sedentary work behaviour. And that’s why even in the return to work scheme, we try and promote remaining at work rather than old standards of staying at home lying down and resting until you [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

Because at work you should probably be moving around, I guess.

Roy Papalia

Yeah, yeah. Well, we’re obviously talking a little bit more about sedentary work behaviours. But then what we’ve got is another spectrum of, you know, the tradies, the industrial area, that’s a completely different scenario where that’s much more a physically demanding role. Do you have a backing injury [inaudible] Yeah, if you have a back injury and you’re told by a doctor to rest for six weeks, good luck trying to return back to that role off the bat. So, and that’s another field, that so with that we obviously try and promote remaining at work. And that’s another area that we [inaudible] Yeah, yeah. Because what we’re just saying, we obviously focusing more on working from home, but we’re having a lot of industry-based companies having to enforce the job keeper payments on their staff because there’s just literally no work. So, we’ve got the brickies. We’ve got the Boilermakers that generally in a physically demanding role that is no longer working. So, suddenly they’re becoming weaker at home they become weight increases and that’s another work issue as well. Upon a return to work

Daniel Franco

Cause it’s extra snacks at home. I’m having the same problem. A lot of kilos in the meantime. So is there something that leaders should be productive? What’s your suggestion to leaders in their businesses? Tell them to get on top of this? So [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

we’d hope that leaders are putting thinking about, putting the appropriate steps in place early on,

Daniel Franco

but it costs money.

Roy Papalia

It does. It costs much more money to manage your work injury.

Daniel Franco

But right now in a world where there is no, well, not that there is no money but there’s, you know, money’s tied, less work coming in, a lot of uncertainty. What the leaders,  what should they do? What are some quick… what’s some low hanging fruit? I guess they [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

Make a call. Give them a call. How are you going? Anything that we could do? You know, provide some information.

Daniel Franco

The communication

Roy Papalia

Yeah, definitely. Everyone’s busy. We can understand that. But like we said, a lot of these employees that, they worried about job security, they don’t want to harp apart. They are fearful. They’re going to be the last people that are going to say, “Hey, listen, I’m uncomfortable at work.” So the leaders should be making a call to them saying, “Hey, is there anything that we can do? Do we need to provide you with further information?”

Daniel Franco

And how you feel? [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Yeah, how you feeling? So? [inaudible] And it’s also important to understand that everyone’s human, everyone, you know, have thoughts and feelings and the leaders needed to be supported as well. And we’d hope that in companies, the leaders that are making these calls, have the knowledge and understanding to provide some basic strategies around what does it look like to set yourself up correctly? Or do they need to call Allied Health consulting? Or just seeking? [inaudible] Yeah, you know. So, I’d love today to provide some really generic information to everyone that is for free, around what the basic parameters are to ensure that everyone remains safe when working from home and…

Daniel Franco

Go for it.

Roy Papalia

So, we first look at a chair. Okay, so sitting

Daniel Franco

The sitting.

Roy Papalia

Yeah. So, we want to avoid sitting on hard surfaces. So, the wooden chairs aren’t the most appropriate things going around. So, if you only have a wooden chair, maybe put a cushion on the padding. You can actually purchase some cheap, affordable insertable lumber supports to increase the degree… sorry reduce, reduce the degree of pressure applied in spine. Because what happens, when we’re sitting versus standing, that’s 1.4 times the amount of pressure on blowback. Okay? if you’re sitting incorrectly that can go up to two times. So, we need to be mindful [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

So, what is the incorrect, hunched over [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Leaning, leaning forward.

Daniel Franco

So, chest out, what is the [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Well, it’s realistically using the support of your backrest. Okay, so you want to be leaning on the back wrist rather than leaning forward, arching your back and using your back to fully support your upper limb, okay. So, use the backrest as much as you can. And we don’t have the luxury of determining whether angles are suitable. Let’s just say that we’ve got a kitchen chair, that can’t be adjusted in height. It can’t be just [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

Like these ones we are sitting on right now.

Roy Papalia

Yeah, basically. So, we need to be mindful of how we use a chair. And we need to be mindful that we have constraints associated with adjusting the chair appropriately. So again, move as much as you can. Try to avoid sitting for long periods on a chair that does not provide added back support. Okay, so we move into sitting on a chair, we need to make sure we have our feet firmly on the floor when our feet are firm on the floor [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

mine is always been underneath [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Yeah, and when you do that, you actually, again, rely on the spine to provide much more support to your upper limb.

Daniel Franco

Yup, this is a big issue.

Roy Papalia

Yeah. So, feet on the floor. It evenly distributes pressure on your spine. So as soon as your feet are firm on the floor rather than legs crossed, or one leg over the other, or leaning towards one side, as soon as your feet are firm on the floor, it reduces the degree of pressure on your spine because your legs can start kicking into supporting your back, so make sure you’re sitting on the back support with your feet firm on the floor and that will provide a really good foundation for you to remain as strong as possible.

Daniel Franco

It’s uncomfortable though. Sitting like that. And then I say that in all sincerity, I find when I try to sit, feet on the floor, back sort of perked up. There’s only so long that I can actually seat like that. Is that [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Yeah, yeah. And that’s when we get back into Okay, well how long is that for? Is that for an hour, you should be getting up after 80% of that every 45 to 15 minutes, right so [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

I was told every half an hour [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

It depends on you. Depends on what you feel is your tolerance.

Daniel Franco

So, if every half an hour you’re not doing any work,

Roy Papalia

oh, you can still change your tasks, you can adjust your task because what we’re trying to do with, we’re trying to promote movement without having a negative impact on your on your work movements. So, change your tasks around, allow that as an opportunity to get up and take, make, or take a phone call. Move. That’s what we’re trying to say like you still need to perform your tasks, but you need to move as frequently as possible. So, you’ve got a sit-stand that allows you to get up and stand.

Daniel Franco

I think even something that Gabriela does is, she gets the Microsoft Teams on her phone. She’ll walk around on her phone, sometimes her camera does not work, that is why she does it. But it’s more about, it’s…I think that’s a good idea. Instead of being sitting in Microsoft Teams or on Zoom at your desk. You could even just walk around while you’re zooming. And that’s on your phone.

Roy Papalia

And that’s integral because our body is stronger when we move. So, what we’re saying, Your issue or your reports of, of being unable to sit for longer than 30 minutes is a result of accumulation. So, it’s adapting poor behaviours early on in the pace to a point where, at 30 minutes, you’re uncomfortable, maybe a month ago that was 60 minutes. And it’s just progressively worse over time because [inaudible] your muscles start to become weaker. So, what I do [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

So, don’t sit on your leg, you know, those people that keep their leg underneath [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

yeah, that just changes how your pelvis is positioned and that causes a change in how you how your, your bum muscles support your back. And how your spine is positioned, as a result.

Daniel Franco

It’s just not good.

Roy Papalia

It’s not good. You want feet firm on the floor. And it’s, again, we’re looking at, well, if I can’t sit for 30 minutes, I need to get up and move around and what we also promote often is stretch breaks or periodic pause exercises. So, we’ve got a micro wrist breaks. So, what they are, they are 5 to 10 seconds of doing completely the opposite of what you generally do for that 30 minute period. So, if you’re stooped down, leaning forward, looking at the laptop, you want to do perform the opposite of that for 5 to 10 seconds every 25 to 30 minutes irrespective. So, the opposite of that is stretching your arms out, pulling your shoulder blades back, pushing your neck up, standing. If you hold that position for 5 to 10 seconds, that’s increasing blood flow and circulation to the muscles. [inaudible] Yeah, it gives us, it gives the muscles that are progressively overloaded, a chance to catch their breath a little bit. So, I would say, don’t stop that before my micro pause. Perform some stretches whilst you’re working, move, so you can move whilst you’re seated. And it has a really positive impact on your body and allows you to continue to sit for a longer period. And if you have to get up, get up. Okay, so that’s the concept of sitting within move towards looking. Okay, so performing work in front of a computer screen. So, when we look at neck injuries, we’re saying the most, the biggest consequence of a neck injury is a computer or a laptop screen that is just positioned way to load based on your field of vision. So, what you need to make sure,

Daniel Franco

So that causes hunching and [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Yeah, flexion of your neck.

Daniel Franco

Yeah. Okay. It’s no different than looking at the phone all day long. If you look down.

Roy Papalia

Yeah. Yeah, but you’re not going to be looking at the phone for that extended period. [inaudible] You know, it’s just natural, you’re going to be looking around so. So, we look at where’s the monitor position versus your neck being in a neutral posture, we need to make sure our field of vision is within the top third of the monitor screen. So, if our neck is in a neutral position, we want to make sure the monitor is in this height as well. Not this height, so the top [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

How can the monitor, just put your eyes below that…

Roy Papalia

Yeah, your eyes are looking at the… well, your field of vision and therefore your forehead it is within the top one-third of the monitors, not down here. Okay, how can you adjust that? When’s the last time you use the white pages? or yellow pages?

Daniel Franco

Do they even deliver it?

Roy Papalia

Yeah, they still deliver it. I’ve got the 2020 so you want to study base… so you can get yesterday

Daniel Franco

from officeworks for $20

Roy Papalia

I’m sure there’s a few books that you probably don’t use. I’ve got a nice firm support. Yeah, you know, so something that’s sturdy. Something that allows, is going to allow for you to raise a monitor to the height that is required, and that keeps your neck in a neutral position. Again, our muscles…

Daniel Franco

What if you’re working just on a laptop? You can get a monitor. Is that the advice?

Roy Papalia

I’d say you can, if you don’t have an opportunity to have a monitor, you can use a laptop, but you just need to make sure that that laptop is used for a monitor and a monitor only. So, you want them to have a keyboard and mouse and use that as your [inaudible] and just use the monitor as a monitor screen. Because the monitor is, so the laptop is one of the most poorly designed ergonomic pieces of equipment ever. [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

So, this is what you’re looking at. This is what you’re doing when you’re in a laptop. [inaudible] So put the laptop on a monitor screen. You can even go to office works and spend $15 or $20 bucks on a laptop stand? Attach a keyboard and mouse [inaudible].

Daniel Franco

This is where the question comes into the businesses have to pay for that or does it should be… [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

So, realistically, my opinion is, it is a business’s responsibility and a requirement through Workplace Health and Safety to ensure they are eliminating and mitigating against risk and with that it’s equivalent when you’re at the work when you are in the workspace, in the office. And you go to your, your team leader, and you say “Listen, I need a monitor stand”. Okay, cool. We’ll get work to pay for it because it’s part of the work so… you’re at home, performing work “listen, I need a monitor stand”. It should be the responsibility of the employer to ensure that you continue to remain safe.

Daniel Franco

So, when everyone goes back to work. What do we do with all these monitors stand?

Roy Papalia

back to work

Daniel Franco

giving it back to work

Roy Papalia

Because it is the employer’s product so that needs to be returned back to work. If you are going to sell fund then you’ve got that for yourself. So, and then when we look at on the insurance spectrum, when we have injured workers that are working from home or injured workers that are performing suitable duties somewhere else if something is purchased for them as part of their claim, that’s theirs. But on an early intervention injury prevention modality when a monitor stand is provided to employees, that is not the employees, that is the employers. So, if the employer purchaser it, you are obliged to return that equipment back to him. And [inaudible] and that’s the catch when if you want to have that moving forward so that if you are ever required to work from home based on selection and preference, then you have that available for you if you make that purchase. Okay, so we’re looking, we’ve looked at the neck, okay, so let’s review: feet firm on the floor. Use the backrest as much as you can, we’re looking at a neck being as neutral as possible, raise that monitor stand as much as you can [inaudible] we’re looking at probably the two most important findings, then we look at the third, injury risks that we’re seeing commonly. And that is a dominant upper limb three a repetitive strain injury. So, the best way to, to focus on early intervention on that, is to be aware, like I said that you’re using that arm more often than not.

Daniel Franco

For the mouse.

Roy Papalia

yeah, you will just that dominant upper limb, not just for the mouse, but to drink water, to drink your coffee, [inaudible] so that dominant upper limb is exposed to repetitive and sustained overuse.

Daniel Franco

So, as we fiddled around on my shoulder the other day [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

So, is that, so that’s that result? [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Yeah, that’s when you’re rounding. So, when you round your shoulder girdle, cause tension in that the top portion of your chest muscle

Daniel Franco

And that generally pull other muscles, then…

Roy Papalia

yeah, that will cause added tension on your, this area here, which is your upper trapezius muscle. And if you like so, [inaudible] And then you like so and that can cause some tension headaches. So, so what, what attributes to that fatigue occurring much more quicker. It depends on where the mouse and keyboard are positioned. First and foremost. So often people will put the keyboard and mouse far away, because they want to put their notepad in front, suddenly, they [inaudible] reaching forward. They’re reaching forward with their keyboard and their mouse. So what happens when you reach for it in this position, you’re tense, you’re causing tension in certain muscles, you’re stretching other muscles, both postures are not what the muscle wants, the muscle wants to work is, is in in its optimal function, which is literally in a neutral position where the shoulders by the side and your elbows are as much A 90 degree angle is possible. Yeah. So, want to make sure that the keyboard and mouse are as close to your primary working zone as possible. Yeah. Okay. If you’re looking at documentation casually, be mindful that you’re sacrificing a frequent task. For an occasional task. We’ll least [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

Remove the notepad out of the way.

Roy Papalia

Yeah, yes, definitely.

Daniel Franco

You’re probably on your computer and [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Yeah, use a notepad only when you’re using it. So, place it away when you’re not using it. And then [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

I think that’s the beauty of what that stand does is it doesn’t allow you to have the keyboard anywhere else other than directly in front of you. Therefore, your notepad has to be off to the side [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Yeah. And we definitely don’t want to be in a position where we’re promoting a sit stand workstation so that all employees have one.

Daniel Franco

No, we don’t.

Roy Papalia

Because that way we were aware of costing [inaudible] you have a previous back injury. And you’ve proved proactive, engaged in on alternative, where you have from what we’ve identified, you have attempted to adjust your workstation as much as possible, conservatively, around what you have available to you. But like you said, without getting into parameters, there were some pre-existing issues that we needed to work through.

Daniel Franco

Yeah. I have a back injury since I was eight-year-old.

Roy Papalia

Yeah, yeah. So, on your end, there was some justification around the ongoing use of a sit-stand workstation. So, let’s veer away or a little bit and be mindful of what it would it means to have a sit-stand workstation. It first and foremost means that an assessor such as myself, an external party will need to provide a service, an assessment, to determine whether that is actually something that is feasible. And that generally on Allied comes from people who have pre-existing issues, back complaints that have not alleviated despite numerous attempts to adjust the chair, make the chair as [inaudible] as possible, as supportive as possible, adjust the workstation as much as possible. But that continues to work to remain.

Daniel Franco

S,  just on that, this is how you go to a client’s house and you say, and you do your assessment, and you put these recommendations forward, and you say “look, you need a sit-stand”, they need a new chair, whatever it might be, and it’s going to cost you $1000 bucks. If you’re a small business, that might be a big hit. Whereas…what happens then? Once the assessment is that you need to have this set up. Well, you need,  we believe that this will definitely positively help you and employers “not it’s too expensive, I can’t afford it”. then, what?

Roy Papalia

Well, they’re increasing their risk of liability, because we can understand that there is a shade of grey  [inaudible], yeah, to a degree. So they just need to make sure first and foremost that they’re doing something about it. They’re being proactive. As assessors, there are a different way that we look at things at home versus at work. So despite COVID-19, I’ve been involved in a lot of assessments at workplaces where individuals have recovered from a non-work-related injury. And it seems the best setup is to work from home. So a knee injury where they don’t have to travel to and from work, they can just set themselves up at home. So we start to apply a common-sense approach. And what we’re seeing is the basic fundamentals, a really hard chair and a high desk, laptop, we can proactively influence that significantly and result and just get a much confidence work as possible. Yeah, because what we’re seeing is an Ergo, ergonomic assessment is not the bee’s knees in terms of the equipment that is provided thereafter. You can have a $5,000 chair if not you if you’re not using it properly…

Daniel Franco

If you’re still sitting on your leg [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Is non-existent or if you’re leaning forward. So, effectively doesn’t equal costs. It doesn’t equal Core equipment, doesn’t equal, you know, an ergonomic mouse with a console, you know, design

Daniel Franco

It means to change what you’re doing right?

 

Roy Papalia

Yeah, it’s movement. It’s proactively influencing what you feel is the area of discomfort. So, yeah, so the little thing, it’s not about having a real cool keyboard. If it’s still sitting for half a meter away from you, that doesn’t mean anything. So, we want to make sure you are set up ergonomically. So when we set someone up at home, we’re following those practice parameters, making sure they’re as ergonomically safe and sound as possible. If they’re working on a chair that can’t be adjusted on a desk that’s too high, and therefore they’re reducing the elbow angle and causing fatigue in your small muscles. What can we do to positively once that, okay, well, let’s have a look at seeing as to whether there might be another area that’s going to be lower that they can use, not just the desk that they use in the study, but the kitchen table might be lower? There’s no reason why you can’t use a kitchen table if it is much more ergonomically suitable.

Daniel Franco

Bring your chair down…

Roy Papalia

Yeah, that’s it. Or do we need to put some, you know, [inaudible] some padding you know, like you can you can have, like elevation, so, foam supports and that are cheap and cost-effective. You can pay for a $20 $30 insertable backrest, you can positively influence that, to push yourself up so you’re a bit more high on your hands, you’re in more of a neutral position. Then if your legs are dangling, we can organize a footrest. Do you need to pay for footrest? Or do you need to find a sturdy box that is at home or a step 10cm step that you use to acquire your groceries from the high-end range in the butler’s pantry? You can use that to keep your feet firmly on the floor. There are so many things that you can use at home that will be equivalent to promoting a sound work, workstation and [inaudible] yeah, yeah, so we’re talking about workplaces but that’s pretty much been my life in the last two months with COVID-19 as an exercise physiologist, we don’t have the luxury of gyms being open. We’re going into Bunnings, getting the watering cans and we’re filling that out with five litres of water because that’s five kilos and we’re doing squats with watering cans. Rocky-style. Because [inaudible] what happened is within literally 24 hours of South Australia advise on [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

I could not get a single dumbbell anywhere

Roy Papalia

Everything sold out. So, we had to

Daniel Franco

And now they’re starting to restock shelves and just go on eBay. Yeah, gyms will open next week. [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Yeah, there’s a lot of backlogs. So yeah, so we had to be unique and how we think critical thinking we’d had we’d have to look outside the square a little bit, not just on the workplace safety when it comes to working from home, that’s also on a treated level. Yeah, I can show some continuous active

Daniel Franco

Well, that’s one thing that you told me, it’s that, because I, I had some issues with my lower back in glute muscle and it was something that you mentioned to me which kind of threw a curveball for me it was, I thought stretching was the answer. And you were telling me no, it’s actually building the strength back in that muscle is the answer, not the stretching, stretching could potentially do more damage, though. Can you just elaborate?

Roy Papalia

Yeah, so we look at joints, the spine. When that posture is incorrect, it results in a different interaction between muscle groups, often agonist-antagonist muscle so an agonist muscle, for example, when you flex your bicep, versus [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

Well, let us use my example, is perfect. I was having low or upper glute or glute problem. And then, but the pain was in my in my side of my back almost wasn’t it? So, is that the vagueness thing?

Daniel Franco

Yeah. So, what your presentation was? You were trying to stretch a glute muscle that had already been stretched enough. So, it’s like an elastic band [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

All right. There was no muscle at all. So, obviously, we think a movement. So, it’s important. Stretching is a form of movement. But strengthening is also a form of movement as well. So, you look at how your pelvis is positioned, it’s positioned in a way where what was happening is you were stretching your, your glutes, you already though already stretched. And you’ll also, as a result, the muscle tightening, yeah, the muscles above the pelvis started to contract and that’s where you’ll feeling that discomfort and then you were laterally flexing towards the right side. So, what we did with your self is adjusted a little bit we told you to stretch the muscles that are tight and strengthen the muscles that are weak. So, when a pulled muscle is pulled even more, it becomes a weak muscle.  So, we got you to do gluteus strengthening exercises, and back and [inaudible] stretching. So…

Daniel Franco

It’s definitely helped, and it was a week ago wasn’t it? and I’m sleeping through the night now, which is amazing,

Roy Papalia

Positive outcome.

Daniel Franco

So it is. What are some of the things right now that HR leaders of the world, you know, [inaudible] leaders of the world, what are some things that you should suggest to them? Given everything that we’ve just talking…

Roy Papalia

yeah, so, I’ve mentioned before, give the employee a call, make sure they’re okay. It’s a very stressful situation for everyone.

Daniel Franco

But I guess more from a policies type thing, is that it should be, should companies write policies in place that they need to get [inaudible] a procedure. We need to make sure that we do call or, hoping that someone does.

Roy Papalia

Yeah. So, I mean, we’ve got a safety consulting component where we offer a service to help an employer ride a COVID-19 risk checklist. So, on a COVID approach, just making sure that all the boxes are ticks with a risk checklist, you know, one and a half meters apart one person per four square meters, etc. But we also need to be mindful of what it looks like on working from home and returning to work scenario. And that if we’re dealing with employers, what it looks like on a liability level, so if we’re having a lot of employees that are set up incorrectly, and they’re having discomfort and they’re entering back into the workforce, there’s going to be the possible chance [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

[inaudible] returning to work right now, changing yet again, your working arrangements [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

[inaudible] And when you compound that with uncertainty and fear of job security. When you’re stress, you fatigue physically quicker as well. So, it’s an environment that is not ideal. So, you need to be diligent with ensuring that the safety and the wellbeing of every employee is addressed appropriately. And it’s just not on a physical level. It’s all on an emotional level as well. So, a lot of these big companies have something called EAP. I’m not sure if you’re aware of it. So that’s the employee assistance program. So, make them aware that that is available to them and their significant others as well. Make them aware that they are there for support if they’re returning back to the workforce, and there is some financial opportunity available, get an assessor out to make sure they’re safe. Provide them with information, advice on what they can do to proactively manage because what we’re possibly going to see is the scenario where people have that idea that I can work from home, okay, that’s not a working injury as well then now, but soon as they enter the workplace, that’s we’re going to they’re going to start thinking I’m uncomfortable

Daniel Franco

Yeah. Do you reckon you’d say more claims?

Roy Papalia

Well, we’ve seen an increase in claims

Daniel Franco

Already. Is that because of working from home or…

Roy Papalia

Lodged

Daniel Franco

Lodge.  Is that because “I’m working from home” more claims? What do you think that you get more, or you see more when people do return? Are they feeling a little bit more comfortable about speaking up?

Roy Papalia

Yeah, I think so. I think there’s going to be an increase in claims Lodged. So we’re going to be measured. There’s a difference between claims Lodged versus claims accepted [inaudible] So there’s going to be an increase in claims Lodged, again, it’s around the uncertainty of job security. People feel comfortable [inaudible], that when they submit a claim, they’ve got income support for up to two years, it’s a security bracket and when an injury is an injury,

Daniel Franco

So just the claim if you’re not accepted claim,

Roy Papalia

but well if a claim is accepted [inaudible] that is accepted is up to two years of income support, support meaning not full income replacement, so it’s based on your average weekly earnings [inaudible] Yeah. Now COVID-19 and it’s interesting what it looks like with job Keeper and COVID-19 and what that looks on an average weekly earnings level, you know,

Daniel Franco

So, it’s going to drastically reduce

Roy Papalia

it is going to reduce it. Yeah. So that your job keeper, you know $750 in shopkeeper that is part of your remuneration over that six to 12-month period. What we’re seeing as well as we move forward to existing claims. We’re seeing people who have been stood down, were on we’re going to take it away from the employer’s level but move on to the employee. People have been stood down about two years of income entitlements. We’re seeing people 18 months in that are nearly at the end stages of their return to work that they’ve been stood down. And as a result, they’re getting job keeper. But the time that they have that two-year period doesn’t stop it’s still ticking over. So, people are not getting the income support, they’re getting the income tops, let’s just say so they’re getting 750 for job keeper and they’re getting a top-up etc. But the top it’s not like things are put on hold. So suddenly the idea is or I’m losing time and losing time is there going to be an injury, injury aggravation that is going to, therefore, result in it being a new two-year entitlement. So we add a risk of claims remaining for a longer period of time, and it could be sick while like injuries or secondary injuries, workplace stress, we’ve had situations where individuals suddenly lodging claim for workplace bullying and harassment, workplace stress. So, we’re seeing employees looking at it. I’m not saying it’s, it’s, it’s subconscious and it’s a form of protection. They’re looking at the people reinjure

 Daniel Franco

Yeah, people are going to try to get away with whatever they can try to get away with, aren’t they? There are some dishonest people out there and absolutely, we need to be aware of them, but there are also very honest people.

Roy Papalia

We call them pain catastrophization? [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

Yeah, so we’re going to see that as well, we’re going to not only see the increase of work injury client like-kind Lodge, but what I see is claims that are nearly on their way to being fully resolved for the outcome. They’re going to be lasting longer.

Daniel Franco

We could go on forever, I’m just conscious of time, but… stress levels right now. Like everyone is stressed. I guess from a sense of job security, income, I’ll go my own bills to pay all this sort of thing. And then there’s not much work out there. Therefore, yeah, the element of stress, not to mention the health concerns of family and everything else that comes with COVID-19. What is someone like yourself or allied health consulting or even return to work SA, how does this stress… are we seeing more claims and stress as well?

Roy Papalia

Yeah. So, we need to determine a claim to be accepted. Work needs to be a significant contributing factor. [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

So, I can’t just say that I’m stressed because of the COVID, or I’m stressed because I’m going to lose my job,

Roy Papalia

You can say both.

Daniel Franco

Yeah, you can say it but if it will be accepted is the other question…

Roy Papalia

So simple terms, that determination process might be a little bit quicker versus something where there is a significant history of workplace bullying and harassment. So we’re gonna see that and that’s where we need to sort of focus more on your doctor focus more on your health professionals focus more on workplace support, focus more on movement, focus more on returning better

Daniel Franco

The prevention piece

Roy Papalia

Yeah, the prevention side of things. We’re always going to have our claims we’re going to probably see the prevalence of that increasing return to work SA. They’ve got an even self-insurance at that matter as well like Coles, Woolworths, you know, the self-insurers. They’ve got a really good claims assessment process where they will, they’ll determine what is true and accepted. versus what may be a bit more subjective and or non-organic. So back that process, but it doesn’t mean that that individual is going through pain and suffering. Is it a work injury? No. But it’s still pain and suffering and that needs to be addressed. The employer has a duty of care to ensure that that doesn’t turn into liability. And the individual has a duty of care as well. So, make sure you, you seek advice from your doctor.

Roy Papalia

Beautiful, right, we’re approaching the hour. We don’t,  we are conscious of your time too. You’re a busy individual. We’re going to move into some rapid-fire questions now to sort of… this is one of my favourite parts of the show. What is your favourite book and why?

Roy Papalia

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. It’s the first book that I felt I was watching a movie through my mind. It is a long book, I cleaned it up in one week.

Daniel Franco

So, is that a fiction book?

Roy Papalia

Yeah, it’s a fantasy. Medieval, sci fi

Daniel Franco

Is that Assassin’s Apprentice

Roy Papalia

Yeah, Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. It was the first of an initial trilogy. Robin Hood then created a subsequent trilogy. So, it’s about young, Pardon the term, bastard, which is the offspring.

Daniel Franco

Yeah. So, we’ve all seen Game of Thrones.

Roy Papalia

Yeah. So back in those days, they would train the bastards up to become assassins for the Royal for the king. So, it’s about this individual becoming assassin. So yeah, it was literally a movie. And so

Daniel Franco

is that the number one book you recommend people or…

Roy Papalia

no, no. It was actually a book that you recommended to me. Do you know which one?

Daniel Franco

Getting Naked, Yeah.

Roy Papalia

So, I’ve recommended that recommended that to a lot of people, particularly consultants that I train and mentor. Yeah, and it’s about consulting first and

Daniel Franco

Absolutely, Patrick Lencioni is a genius, Getting Naked is the name of the book. So, get onto that. I know you love you. You’ve just proven to us that you love your fantasy and sci fi. So, I threw this question, if you could be. If you could have a superhero power, what would that be?

Roy Papalia

Someone has asked me this in the past. Always Batman.

Daniel Franco

Batman. Does he get power?

Roy Papalia

His powers money. So yeah, so actually, Batman, you look at that. Yeah, you look at Batman story. So, he had a really traumatic incident that he could allow to affect him negatively. But he decided to use it as fuel to change the world…

Daniel Franco

Yeah, so his mindset is his power.

Roy Papalia

Yeah, yes. And you also like that Batman. Batman as well. As he grew up. He was he thought he was the crap. Yeah, he was felt like he can tackle the world but there’s different forms of Batman. He becomes an older, wiser and he starts to mentor individuals he learns later on down the track that he’s stronger being a part of a team as well when he is older, and that’s how they create a Justice League. So, Batman always learned.  [inaudible] He always learned from his mistakes and turned it into a strength.

Daniel Franco

That’s brilliant. I never thought about that. That’s good. So, if you give me a character, I threw this in because I do know you on an outside level as well. So I threw this in there, as a bit of a laugh if there was a TV character that best describes you who would be?

Roy Papalia

Ross from Friends. So yeah [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

I know you can’t see Roy at the moment, but he might, for a long time that I’ve know Roy, he has been described as Ross from Friends, so I thought I’d throw that in.

Roy Papalia

Yeah. So I look like Ross and I act like Ross as well. So Ross is a character where he’s a bit of a geek by trade. He’s a bit of an introvert a lot of times. [inaudible] Yeah, cuz I’ve decided to, decide to look into Little bit. And yeah, but he’s very loyal to his own. And he protects his own. He is definitely respectful. But at times he can be quite selfish as well when it’s his own. So yeah, definitely, Ross from friends.

 

Daniel Franco

That’s brilliant. [inaudible] And my favourite part of the day, what is your favourite dead joke?

Roy Papalia

Ah, where does the werewolf leave? In a warehouse.

Daniel Franco

I’ve heard that one before because that is what, that’s your only joke for about five years. Yeah, brilliant. Thank you very much, Roy.

Roy Papalia

Thank you very much for having me.

Daniel Franco

That was a very, very enlightening podcast, especially for people who run their own businesses or even large corporations who are in HR who are leaders of businesses. I think it’s really important to get around and understand that people potentially could be suffering at home without them knowing they’re suffering without They might even actually, suffering from a health point of view. So, I think it’s I think this is just going to bring things to the forefront of people’s minds which we appreciate you being here. Where can we find you? What is where is allied health-based, what’s your email address? So please tell [inaudible]

Roy Papalia

So right now, we were looking at transitioning into an office located around the sort of outskirts of the eastern suburbs. For now, I’m located a few days a week at a clinical next-generation occupational medicine and otherwise I’m out and about mobile at various gyms when they open so I would suggest the best form of contact, shoot me an email be more than happy [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

So, info@alliedhealthconsulting.com.au

Roy Papalia

That is correct. Yes.

Daniel Franco

Beautiful. Excellent.

Roy Papalia

Shoot me and I’ll be able to address your concerns from [inaudible]

Daniel Franco

Thanks for it. I appreciate it. Thank you very much. Cheers, guys. Bye.

Outro:

Thank you once again for joining us here at Creating Synergy. It’s been great spending this time with you. Please jump onto the SynergyIQ Facebook page where the discussion continues after the show. Join our mailing list so you’ll know what’s happening next at synergyiq.com.au. And of course, don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast and if you really enjoyed it, please share it with your friends.

Meet our Host

Daniel Franco

Daniel Franco

Daniel has a passion to help people shift their lives and businesses to another level, regardless of their current success. His pure enthusiasm and joy for creating long lasting relationships is paramount to the success of our Clients and SynergyIQ.

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