Worke with back injury Giveninjuries happen for a variety of reasons, it is important to assessand re-assess existing programs and how they serve the needs ofyour organization. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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From absenteeism to increased costs for the company, workplaceinjuries can cause a significant disruption for employers.According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, nearly 3million on-the-job injuries occurred in 2017 alone. So,minimizing workplace injuries is a topic on many business leaders'minds every year. And for good reason—it makes good businesssense.

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Safety should be a priority for every business within everyindustry. Because a proactive approach to injury prevention andtreatment in the workplace demonstrates a strong commitment to thewell-being of your most valuable resource— your employees.

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Related: How to keep older workers safe and productive onthe job

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Given injuries happen for a variety of reasons, it is importantto assess and re-assess existing programs and how they serve theneeds of your organization. Here are a few first-hand examples ofcompanies we've collaborated with at HealthFitness that have usedworkplace injury prevention and treatment programs to not onlycreate a safer work environment, but also benefit the bottomline:

Injury prevention across multiple facilities

One client needed a broad injury prevention and treatmentprogram for 9,000 employees across multiple facilities to addressan increase in injuries. More workplace injuries meant increasedOSHA recordables rates, absenteeism and short- and long-termdisability. We addressed these challenges by implementing a seriesof new programs, including new hire work conditioning, earlyintervention, self-care, pre-shift warm-up exercises, first aidfollow-ups, and a nine-week exercise conditioning program. Thebusiness results were significant:

  • 90 percent resolution of musculoskeletal disorders.
  • 83 percent resolution of reported discomfort.
  • $2.5 million in cost avoidance, which is determined by thenumber of participants multiplied by an average cost of an OSHArecordable from ergonomic injuries.

Making ergonomic stretching fun

Another client, med-tech giant Boston Scientific, wanted to fixits existing program and proactively eliminate or reduce the riskof injuries to help employees stay safe and pain-free. The tippingpoint was an increasing number of ergonomic injuries at its MapleGrove, Minn. manufacturing facility. In partnership with our onsiteteam, Boston Scientific worked to create an ergonomic stretching program, with movementstailored to each work station and an emphasis on fun to keepemployees engaged.

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The key to success was using a musical cue to announce room-widestretch breaks. The song of choice? None other than the theme songof the most storied and celebrated villain in movie history, DarthVader. Cue the “Imperial March!” Visible support and participationfrom the company's leadership—at every level—was also a key factorin the success of this program. Once the musical cue comes on,everyone in the room has to stretch—from executives, to engineersto safety managers, to production workers. When everyoneparticipates, everyone wins and the business benefits.

Equipping new hires for safety and success

Finally, a manufacturing client was experiencing an increase ininjuries and illnesses among new hires, resulting in increased OSHArecordable rates, worker compensation costs and higher turnover.The implemented program focused on assessing work tasks and safetypractices before, during and after the hiring process to ensure newhires met the requirements of the job and were properly trained.Ultimately, this proactive approach resulted in decreased OSHArecordable rates by 60 percent in the first year and another 18percent the following year. Additionally, fewer OSHA recordablesmeant a savings of $12,000 to $25,000 per case.

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Now, you might think your business is different and case studieslike these don't apply to you. But, workplace injuries happen for avariety of reasons and those reasons are changing as quickly astechnology and what comprises today's workplace. Everyone canbenefit from a proactive approach.

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According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA), there are four main factors that are contributing to thegrowing need for injury prevention and treatment programs.

  1. Work is becoming more automated. Thisautomation introduces new and different hazards into the workplaceas a result of technology, computers, and robotics.
  2. The workplace is also more diverse than everbefore. This can potentially have an impact oncommunication and create barriers to a safe workplace as peoplefrom different backgrounds and cultures work together.
  3. Today's workforce is aging. The risk forwork-related musculoskeletal disorders is on the rise aswork and life have become more sedentary.
  4. The nature of employment is changing.Traditional relationships between employers and employees areshifting, increasing temporary and contract employment. Safetyprograms must evolve to address the ever-changing workplace and howemployees contribute to their workplace.

A hands-on approach to injury prevention and treatment is alwaysgood business. It ensures your organization can maximizeproductivity and optimize performance. And there is no questionthat employees who feel valued and safe in the workplace contributeto the wellbeing of the business in the long run—and that's goodfor everyone.


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Nicole Chaudet is the executivedirector, product execution, with HealthFitness.She is charged with leading the team that takes new products,services and product enhancements to market. She has beendelivering employee wellbeing programs and solutions, both on-siteand in a consultative role, for more than 20 years.

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