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Preventing Workplace Injuries

We’re always interested in research and programs that are aimed at preventing workplace injuries before they happen.

Three such articles have caught our interest recently, beginning with a program at Boston University that has virtually eliminated repetitive motion shoulder injuries among custodians and reduced the the university’s workers’ comp costs by 85 percent over a three-year period.

Repetitive motion injuries result in an average of 23 days away from work – three times the number of days from other injuries. Shoulder injuries are the most common type of repetitive motion injury reported and the second most frequent injury experienced by janitors and custodial workers.

Julie Collins, a third-year doctor of physical therapy student at BU, set out to change this through education and equipment modification. Researchers studied how each university custodian performed their daily work duties, then developed ergonomics training programs aimed at reducing shoulder injuries. The university also provided custodians with step stools so they wouldn’t have to perform so much work overhead, putting their shoulders at risk for repetitive motion injuries.

“Injury prevention through education and workplace modifications is crucial to reduce the overwhelming expense of musculoskeletal injuries,” said BU faculty member Lee Marinko, who is also a practicing physical therapist at the Boston University Physical Therapy Center. “This project highlights how simple changes can have a significant impact, not only on cost but also on employee health and safety.”

Injury and Illness Prevention Programs — or IIPPs — like the one at Boston University, are becoming important tools in keeping workers safe.  In fact, 15 states now require IIPPs, according to Succeed Management Solutions.

Something as simple as daily stretching can be the key in preventing all types of workplace injuries. 

We found an interesting news release from Industrial Motions, a Raleigh-based company that specializes in workplace injury prevention.

Industrial Motions offers a wellness program called WorkDay Warm-Up that combines stretching exercises with simple strengthening exercises aimed at improving worker safety.

“This unique blend of stretching and strengthening for the workplace has evolved through feedback from the workers themselves,” Frank Murray, the CEO of Industrial Motions, said in a press release. “Traditional workplace exercise programs consist mainly of stretching. Workers and companies were requesting strengthening exercises as well.”

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