According to OSHA, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time in the U.S. But the truth of the matter is, regardless of where an MSD occurs, it will impact an employee’s ability to perform their job and will typically recur.
Do you know someone with a recurring strain, sprain or back injury?
How often has that injury flared up again because of a simple movement like bending down to pick something up? Over time, if musculoskeletal injuries are not properly addressed, they will typically have long-term negative effects on employees and can become extremely expensive for employers.
The good news is that 53% of all workers comp related injuries can be prevented entirely by adjusting the way that people use their bodies, interact with their environment and move through space. Here are five proven strategies for preventing these painful and costly injuries from occurring in the first place.
1. Remember that movement matters, not just ergonomics
Too often companies overlook the individuals and focus completely on ergonomics when trying to reduce injuries. Ergonomics is the science of engineering the environment to the human being but as humans, we still have to interact with that environment. We can have the most ergonomically designed seat in the world, but if we slouch all day long, we’re still going to end up with back pain. It’s more effective to build habits around strong human movement so that they can interact with any given environment in the safest way possible.
2. Consistency builds safe, strong habits over time
According to NASA, it takes 30 days to create a habit and just as long to lose one. Safety trainings that take place in a single session will be quickly forgotten. By delivering trainings through a consistent micro-learning path, workers can build safe, strong habits over time with minimal impact on fleet operations. This will enable them to subconsciously default to the strongest positions and avoid breaking their bodies down with bad form and bad habits.
3. Use participatory learning methods
The Learning Pyramid produced by the National Training Laboratories in Bethel, Maine states that passive learning methods such as watching videos, demonstrations, lectures and reading average less than 30% retention, while participatory methods such as in-person practice and teaching others average up to 90%. By engaging team members in participatory learning methods, they will think more critically about the material, internalize the concepts, and will be more likely to take ownership over what they have learned.
4. Empower your team
Teaching team members the fundamentals of strong movement empowers them to make good choices that can build their bodies up throughout a long career. If a team member truly understands the difference between a strong position and a weak position, they can then apply these principles to anything and everything they do on the job and at home. If an employee hurts his back at home, it will still impact his or her ability to work. Creating better habits will keep team members happy and healthy over the course of a career and into retirement.
5. Commit the time
Injuries are expensive, both financially and culturally. When you look at the direct and indirect costs of musculoskeletal injuries to a business, the return on investment for a preventative program is often five to ten times the cost of the program. Additionally, when performance demands go up, the risk of injury becomes even higher at the worst possible time. Commit the time to implement a preventative training program and make sure to give your team the time they need to build safe habits. It will pay off in the long run.
When executed as part of an integrated program, the strategies above will help your employees protect themselves from injuries at home and at work, ensuring a better quality of life for them while helping to ensure the highest levels of operational efficiency.
Wondering how you can prevent workplace injuries in your fleet? Check out: 5 Tips for Reducing the Most Common Fleet Worker Injuries.
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