Sprains and strains are by far one of the most common workplace injuries, affecting tens of thousands of workers every year. Even if you don't have workers who engage in heavy, physical labor, a sprain or strain can occur even in the most sedentary job situations. Rolling an ankle on a wet floor in the bathroom or straining your back while trying to reach the top drawer of a filing cabinet are common occurrences for office workers.
The National Safety Council (NSC) finds that the top three leading causes of work-related injuries are overexertion and bodily reaction, slips, trips and falls, and contact with objects and equipment. These three causes of workplace injuries account for more than 84 percent of all nonfatal injuries involving days away from work. Each of these can cause acute sprains and strains, and in many cases also lead to chronic musculoskeletal disorders like tendinitis.
No matter what industry you are in, developing a holistic and comprehensive sprain and strain prevention program is an important strategy to protect your workforce. Furthermore, preventing strains and sprains in the workplace can also help business owners save money on workers´ compensation payments and costly missed days due to worker injuries. Below, we look at a few of the best sprains and strains prevention strategies.
How to Prevent Sprains and Strains
To prevent sprains and strains, it is important to recognize that every company needs a multi-pronged approach. The following are key elements to have in place:
- Engineering and Administrative Controls: Controls are workplace design, equipment, policies and procedures that are implemented to reduce exposure and risk of injury. Engineering controls might include ergonomically proper workplace furniture, optimum heights for machinery, and ergonomic assistive devices that help all your employees maintain optimal joint positions. These may also include the addition of mirrors, pathway markers and non-skid or matted surfaces. Administrative controls t might include proper training, safety policies, job rotation and stretch breaks.
- Human Performance Coaching: Controls are still subject to the people who are working in and with them. People must adhere to policies, respond to training, participate in structured breaks. People also move differently despite the best designed workstation. Human performance coaching addresses body mechanics, postures, movement patterns and habits of each employee. Individual health and wellness education can also be provided. Optimizing these significantly reduced the exposure to musculoskeletal fatigue that leads to injury.
- Early Intervention: When employees do develop symptoms it is important to address them early. An early intervention program provides first aid care and pairs it with human performance coaching to address the root cause.
- Situational Awareness: Even the best sprain and strain prevention strategy is not foolproof. A clumsy worker or an accidental slip on the stairs can quickly lead to a painful fall leading to a sprained ankle, knee, or wrist. Situational awareness training teaches employees to be aware and respond quickly to changing environments. It helps employees stay alert to surface changes and unexpected occurrences to keep them safe. A program like that can even include balance training to help prevent slips, trips and falls.
- Workplace Culture: A small percentage of all sprains and strains in the workplace are actually caused by episodes of violence. Creating a positive and healthy workplace culture, then, can also help to reduce the threat of sprains, strains, and other more serious injuries. Some things to consider here are employee feedback and recognition opportunities and team building strategies like group participation in special events or community outreach.
A Sprain-Free, Strain-Free Workplace Starts With Work-Fit
The above components are essential elements of a proactive and holistic strategy to reduce the frequency and severity of strains and sprains in the workplace. No matter what industry you are in, your business should consider hiring a third-party contractor that can help the company develop and implement the best strategies for avoiding costly sprains and strains.
Work-Fit is a leading onsite injury and telehealth prevention and wellness management program for your workforce. Our injury prevention program is a great resource to reduce musculoskeletal fatigue and prevent strains and sprains. Work-Fit provides human performance coaching, early intervention and situational awareness programs, and can help you design and implement controls. Together, we partner with you to build a positive workplace culture! Contact Work-Fit today to see how we can help your company today!