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Musculoskeletal injuries and the value of employee stretching programs

No matter the size of their operations or the sector in which they operate, most employers are well versed on the consequences of serious work injuries. For instance, most know that if they lose an employee for several months with some sort of injury, they will see both decreased production and increased costs (higher insurance premiums, training for replacements, etc.).

Not surprisingly then, some employers are willing to entertain the idea of implementing new strategies to prevent these costly workplace injuries. For instance, employers in certain industries might have given serious consideration to implementing an employee stretching plan to prevent musculoskeletal injuries.

For those unfamiliar with musculoskeletal injuries, they essentially involve some level of pain in the muscles, ligaments or tendons of the body (arm, neck, shoulder, shoulder, leg, etc.), and can be caused by everything from repetitive motions and trauma to overuse and strain.

How effective then is an employee stretching plan in preventing this type of injury?

According to experts, a stretching program can improve flexibility, and even provide some level of psychological benefit in the form of employee bonding and improved morale.

However, they also caution that employers must tread cautiously before implementing any sort of employee stretching plan. The reason? A plan that is implemented hastily and without the proper level of preparation can affect their bottom line and, even worse, cause more work injuries.

A successful employee stretching plan, they argue, requires educational materials, a trained instructor, and workers willing and able to commit to five to ten minute sessions several times a week.

In fact, experts assert that employers should strongly consider this as only one step in an otherwise comprehensive ergonomics program that is also designed to eliminate the risks of musculoskeletal injuries through workstation design and employee training.

Accordingly, while a stretching plan might seem like a viable option for keeping your workforce healthy at first glance, it is not something that should be entered into without the proper level of consideration.

Stay tuned for more from our workers' compensation defense blog ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.


EHS Today, "Workplace stretching programs: Do they work and are they worth the cost," Donald Graham, Feb. 7, 2013

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