Correct worker aches and pains before they result in a claim
How often might an employee begin to feel some aches and pains on the job and think, “I’m sure this will go away on its own?”
New employees are using muscles and joints they may not have used for awhile, especially if they have spent time unemployed and they might be afraid to mention any aches and pains. Long-term employees, on the other hand, are subject to the aging process and normal wear and tear but they often don’t comprehend how a job they’ve been doing for years might suddenly cause them pain.
Both kinds of workers will often deal with the pain for too long until it gets unbearable and begins to affect their work. At that point, it is usually necessary to send them to a physician, whereby it is determined they have a condition that is well entrenched.
But what if your company had a therapist who came by every week or two to check in with employees? That therapist would spend an hour talking to employees who had minor complaints. He or she could then immediately teach stretches or start an icing program. The therapist could watch employees on the job and recommend changes in posture or suggest ways to rotate workers to reduce overuse.
Chances are good that a therapist could reverse that minor ache before it demanded a physician’s attention – and potentially a workers’ compensation claim.
A therapist has the experience to recognize an injury that is waiting to happen. And as that therapist establishes a relationship with your staff over time, your employees are likely to speak up earlier.
The bottom line is this: catch musculoskeletal overuse early, before a minor ache turns to major inflammation, tendonitis or nerve impingement.
Alsco, the industrial laundry plant here in Eugene, has had such a program in place since 2006. The company contracted with Cascade Health Solutions to have a therapist come for one hour, weekly to meet with team members while they are working. Claims increased in the first year as team members were encouraged to come forward. During the second year, claims dropped. And over the next five years, the company saved more than $650,000 in claims, boosted production, lowered absenteeism and improved moral.
There are three simple but important reasons why this works:
- “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” says Bill Inge, general manager at Alsco.
- If an injury is caught early, the time required to treat it is dramatically shorter.
- Workers feel cared for and are likely to follow through on recommendations, especially when they know the therapist will be checking on them in a week.
As the therapist who provides this on-site service at Alsco, I can tell you that there is tremendous value in visiting people at the work place. There have been many times where I have been able to turn around an injury that was heading south and had the potential to erupt into major tendonitis. Alsco employees and I are grateful that this company is willing to take care of its staff members. In return, the company has reduced its worker’s compensation claims.
If you would like more information about on-site therapy services, please contact Travis Hoffman, manager of Physical and Occupational Therapy at Cascade Health Solutions, at 541-228 3132.
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