Unfortunately, work-related injuries are a common occurrence. An estimated 2.8 million workers were injured on the job in the United States in the year 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of those injuries occurred in dangerous professions, such as construction, manufacturing, farming and other machine operator roles. While rest and physical therapy after a workplace injury can help workers get back on their feet, too many workers make the mistake of returning to work before they are ready. This results in many workers re-injuring themselves.
Suffering re-injury after returning to work is a serious concern. If a worker has not taken enough time off and received the right care to allow their injury to heal, they risk re-injuring themselves. This can often lead to a more severe injury than the initial one. Also, if a worker returns to the same workplace conditions that caused their injury in the first place, it is likely that the same injury will occur again.
How can we prevent re-injury after returning to work?
Being proactive during recovery and return to work is the best way to prevent re-injury in the workplace. Following these five steps can help to prepare workers to return to work safely:
- Receiving job coaching and ergonomic training — Workplace injuries are often caused by poor posture, repetitive motions and inefficient movement patterns. Body mechanics coaching helps workers to correct these behaviors in the way that they work and develop good habits that prevent injury. Training in ergonomics encourages employees to use all the benefits of their workstation design, including incorporating available assistive devices and tools that reduce stress on the body.
- Participating in job conditioning —Job conditioning can be delivered by an outside provider as a component of physical therapy. Or, it can be delivered on-site and proactively based on the specific demands of a given job task. In both cases, a solid conditioning program should include core strengthening, posture and movement pattern reinforcement, and exercises to build strength and mobility for specific job tasks.
- Practicing self-care — It is important for every employee to learn techniques like self-massage, stretching, microbreaks and strategies to reverse postural and positional stress. These practices are essential to reduce musculoskeletal fatigue and prevent re-injury. They are also able to help mitigate an employee’s anxiety about discomfort in returning to work, making a smoother transition back to work.
- Using virtual care — There are many ways that workers can prepare to return to work from the comfort of their home. Physical therapy and other forms of medical care can be accessed without a doctor’s referral in most states. They can also be accessed online as a form of virtual care. Most physical therapy is also covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Another layer for successful return to work is the opportunity to access virtual care in the workplace. With this integration, an employee can seek advice and care right at their work site, including body mechanics coaching, fatigue-reducing strategies, health and wellness consultation, and even addressing concerns about early symptoms of fatigue or pain. This value-added service again helps employees experience an easier reentry into their job tasks.
- Being proactive about injury prevention — Making sure that your workplace is safe is the number one way to prevent worker re-injury. This includes assessing the workplace and correcting any potential dangers, as well as being prepared in the event of an accident.
How can Work-Fit help prevent injuries in my workplace?
Work-Fit has been providing expert, tailor-made workplace injury prevention programs for 30 years. We deliver services that match all five key steps listed above. Our certified athletic trainers and exercise physiologists use a proactive, holistic approach to increase employee productivity, save your company money on health care costs, and keep you OSHA compliant.
Contact our team today for more information about our services or to learn how we can help keep your employees work fit.