Reducing workplace injuries: Get the right worker in the right job
How to reduce workplace injuries and improve your bottom line
Let’s say an employer has incorporated all reasonable ergonomic interventions, minimized the physical demands of a job, and effectively made the job as safe as possible. What more can an employer do to reduce worker compensation costs?
It’s an important question because widespread occurrences of musculoskeletal problems in workplaces in the United States cost industries billions of dollars annually, in lost time as well as direct and indirect costs. It is estimated that industries will spend about $20 billion per year treating musculoskeletal injuries.
Matching worker to the work
One answer is to test job applicants’ functional capacities to better match them to the demands of specific jobs. This functional testing is done after an applicant has been offered a job, but before they’ve been placed in a specific position.
Such tests have proven effective in controlling losses. In fact, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration considers employee job matching instrumental in injury prevention.
Creating a pre-placement test
Creating a test involves measuring and documenting the actual physical demands of a specific job, establishing simulated tasks and validating the test through the use of managers and employees. Once this preliminary work is done, the test is used to select only those individuals who possess the physical strength to safely perform the job, therefore reducing injuries from overexertion.
Additionally, the test can be used to determine when an employee is safe to return to the job after a non-work-related injury or illness.
Post-offer, pre-placement testing can result in:
- A better-qualified work force
- Improved productivity
- Reduced injuries and claims
Employers – especially those with high rates of musculoskeletal injury – should consider post-offer, pre-employment testing as part of their ergonomics and safety programs.
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