Chapter Corner

Motion is Money

Posted in: Management Methods, September/October 2014

As the workforce ages, soft tissue injuries become the leading frequency and severity loss drivers in warehousing/distribution. Motion is Money is a focused process designed to address the musculoskeletal disorder risk factors driving these losses while positively affecting the production, efficiency, and quality of operations.

While it’s impossible to eliminate 100 percent of the risk factors that occur in a construction operation, much can be done to significantly reduce exposure to risk. A safety process can take 14 to 18 months of data gathering and analysis (measuring the frequency and severity of injuries) to see proof of positive results. Given the length of time it takes to achieve results, it’s easy to lose focus on the goal. However, by utilizing the Motion is Money methodology, you can make small changes that affect your productivity, efficiency, and/or quality, which can develop measurable results much more quickly.

Employee health and safety are the overriding objectives, but consider also the productivity and efficiency impact on your business. Motion is indeed money in the construction business, which relies on employees’ physical movement to accomplish job tasks. Recognizing opportunities to minimize movement is the start toward a more healthful and efficient operation. Walking, bending, carrying, pushing, pulling, and working overhead are classic examples of movement in the workplace.

You must begin to see these motions with a different set of eyes; namely, as a production and efficiency issue, not just as risks factors (our classic approach). Viewed in relation to productivity you will start to see them differently.

For example: An employee bends over and picks up material from the ground. How many times does the employee bend over in an hour or a day? It takes approximately three seconds to bend over. The average electric construction worker will bend over 25,000 to 30,000 times a year. Multiply this by the number of employees and then the number of days worked. This number will make you wonder: How much wasted time do we have in a year from bending? That can only be answered by knowing what percentage of the 25,000 to 30,000 bends can be eliminated.

Observing what really occurs in your operations is critically important. No combination of indirect methods (reports, surveys, narratives, etc.) can possibly take the place of direct observation.

Take the time to observe every single movement by every person walking, bending, carrying, reaching, etc. Start by spending 30 minutes just observing. You will be amazed at the wasted motion you see during this time. Make notes about what strikes you as unexpected— what you notice that seems extraneous to the task. When you get used to observing these wasted motions, they will become easier to identify.

The concept of annualizing is one of the most important concepts everyone should begin to execute. Most foreman see something happen once or twice, and it does not make a big impact, however, if annualized it creates a different picture. You can make a better business case when you annualize, which takes into account the number of work days per year.

The goal is then to be able to affect the bottom line by 3 to 5 percent, (which has been shown to be easily achievable in studies) altering how we do business by understanding the wasted motion or non-value added motion in the operations. Once you have evaluated a job task and understand where the waste or non-value added motion is occurring, then you can baseline the job task as it is currently completed. Work with the operations area, engineering, safety, or committees to develop sound business solutions. Once these solutions are put in place then re-measure the task for efficiency, productivity, quality, and risk factors. Compare the two and figure the savings you have achieved.

A key factor is looking at the small changes. Create successes by executing small changes that can have a big impact. After several months of this type of execution, you will have dramatically affected how an operation runs.

It takes each individual in an organization to affect change and enhance productivity, improve quality, and reduce risk factors. By employing the Motion is Money process you can change how you do business and affect bottom line profitability as well as reduce your risk.

Brian Roberts is a Risk Control Director at CNA, an IEC National Platinum Partner. For more information, call (866) 262-0540or visit

This information is presented for illustrative purposes only and has been developed from sources believed to be reliable. CNA accepts no responsibility for the accuracy or completeness of this information. CNA is a registered trademark of CNA Financial Corporation. Copyright ©2014 CNA. All rights reserved.