View Source: Nicole Chaudet

A proactive approach to injury prevention demonstrates a strong commitment to the well-being of your most valuable resource—your employees.

Given injuries happen for a variety of reasons, it is important to assess and re-assess existing programs and how they serve the needs of your organization. (Photo: Shutterstock)

From absenteeism to increased costs for the company, workplace injuries can cause a significant disruption for employers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statics, nearly 3 million 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 business sense.

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

Given injuries happen for a variety of reasons, it is important to assess and re-assess existing programs and how they serve the needs of your organization. Here are a few first-hand examples of companies we’ve collaborated with at HealthFitness that have used workplace injury prevention and treatment programs to not only create a safer work environment, but also benefit the bottom line:

Injury prevention across multiple facilities

One client needed a broad injury prevention and treatment program for 9,000 employees across multiple facilities to address an increase in injuries. More workplace injuries meant increased OSHA recordables rates, absenteeism and short- and long-term disability. We addressed these challenges by implementing a series of new programs, including new hire work conditioning, early intervention, self-care, pre-shift warm-up exercises, first aid follow-ups, and a nine-week exercise conditioning program. The business 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 the number of participants multiplied by an average cost of an OSHA recordable from ergonomic injuries.

Making ergonomic stretching fun

Another client, med-tech giant Boston Scientific, wanted to fix its existing program and proactively eliminate or reduce the risk of injuries to help employees stay safe and pain-free. The tipping point was an increasing number of ergonomic injuries at its Maple Grove, Minn. manufacturing facility. In partnership with our onsite team, Boston Scientific worked to create an ergonomic stretching program, with movements tailored to each work station and an emphasis on fun to keep employees engaged.

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

Equipping new hires for safety and success

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

Now, you might think your business is different and case studies like these don’t apply to you. But, workplace injuries happen for a variety of reasons and those reasons are changing as quickly as technology and what comprises today’s workplace. Everyone can benefit from a proactive approach.

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

  1. Work is becoming more automated.This automation introduces new and different hazards into the workplace as a result of technology, computers, and robotics.
  2. The workplace is also more diverse than ever before.This can potentially have an impact on communication and create barriers to a safe workplace as people from different backgrounds and cultures work together.
  3. Today’s workforce is aging.The risk for work-related musculoskeletal disorders is on the rise as work and life have become more sedentary.
  4. The nature of employment is changing.Traditional relationships between employers and employees are shifting, increasing temporary and contract employment. Safety programs must evolve to address the ever-changing workplace and how employees contribute to their workplace.

A hands-on approach to injury prevention and treatment is always good business. It ensures your organization can maximize productivity and optimize performance. And there is no question that employees who feel valued and safe in the workplace contribute to the wellbeing of the business in the long run—and that’s good for everyone.