We all know the inherent risk that comes with repetitive movements and heavy lifting. Tennis elbow anyone? And who hasn’t pulled their back grabbing a box of junk from the garage?
But we often take for granted the taxing toll picking up heavy construction materials 50 times a day or maneuvering 30 pound boxes of merchandise through a warehouse five days a week can have on the body.
That’s why Tidewater Physical Therapy’s Occupational Services Division offers injury prevention and work rehabilitation services for employers. The key to having healthy workers and reducing OSHA reportable injuries is to implement programs that promote workplace safety and get employees who do get hurt healed and safely back on the job.
The best way to reduce workplace injury is to avoid it in the first place. Tidewater Physical Therapy offers a series of tests, consultations and workplace assessments to help employers ensure everyone stays safe on the job.
Part of that means pre-employment screening, including musculoskeletal examinations, for employees who have been offered a job that requires manual labor – think sheet metal fabrication. The goal is to make sure a prospective employee doesn’t have any ailments that could inhibit his or her ability to safely meet the physical demands of the position.
Assessments to evaluate risk in the workplace and job analysis to determine the physical demands of a position are also critical to identifying employees who can handle the job.
And for employees already working, it’s always a good idea to have a refresher on how to avoid getting hurt. Safety trainings can help remind employees how to take care of themselves at work and be more aware of their body when doing physical tasks on the job.
But don’t worry if an employee is already dealing with a sore shoulder or back. Tidewater Physical Therapy’s Conservative Care program offers employees access to athletic trainers who can help treat discomfort before it becomes a reportable injury.
Ergonomics in the Workplace
The goal of ergonomics is to eliminate injuries associated with the overuse of muscles, bad posture and repeated tasks at work. But it doesn’t mean an employer has to shell out thousands of dollars to stock up on the latest treadmill desk, body hugging chair or back support belt.
Instead, Tidewater Physical Therapy focuses on how to strategically use existing furniture and equipment to maximize the comfort of the work environment. That might mean placing equipment or office furniture closer together to avoid repetitive movements. Or it might mean teaching employees who work at a desk about the importance of walking several times a day. For industrial workers, such as a machinist working inside a submarine, an ergonomic environment might mean strategic breaks for counter stretches every 30 minutes to avoid soreness and muscle strain.
Ergonomic programs can help keep employees working comfortably regardless of their work environment. Read more about Workplace Ergonomic Assessments.
When an injury does occur, it’s critical to get the employee treatment that will help him or her get back to work quickly and safely. A physical therapist in the Occupational Services Division will develop a program to help employees return to work.
But this isn’t your grandmother’s rehab. This is physical therapy designed for the worker who needs to throw 50-pound bags of sand on an 18-wheeler truck – or whatever the task may be. Treatment is always tailored to the job environment.
And before an injured employee is cleared to return to work, he or she will undergo a functional capacity evaluation to assess his or her ability to move and perform work-related tasks. Are her knees fully functional? Are his hips stable? The work injury assessment will include a recommendation on whether an employee can return to work full-time, part-time or perhaps should be transferred to a less labor intensive position. These assessments may also include an exam to determine if an employee qualifies for disability.
An injury free workplace means employees are safe and businesses can save millions a year in worker compensation claims. That’s good for everyone.