Safety cultures are a strategic initiative at the country's most innovative and productive organizations. Amid the global pandemic, workplace safety is a top priority for every organization's success. Practical strategies to recruit new employees, retain existing employees, prevent employee injuries, and improve employee wellness are being implemented across companies. In this post, we talk about the real benefits of onsite PT clinics.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that work-related injuries and accidents average over 880,000 per year, costing U.S. firms more than $62 billion in 2019. Many of these injuries are musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders and are usually preventable with early intervention and rehabilitation. This has spurred many organizations to implement injury prevention programs as part of their safety culture initiatives.
A New Approach
A recent workplace wellness trend offers onsite services, including healthy food options, fitness classes, and health screenings. Companies are now finding that an onsite physical therapist (PT) plays a vital role in their wellness programs and reinforces safety culture. These credentialed professionals can screen employees for pain or discomfort recommend appropriate first aid or corrective exercises to improve a patient's strength and flexibility to minimize muscle damage.
Professionals who have familiarity with the workplace can provide faster answers resulting in a quicker return to work. And because the therapist is onsite working among employees, they build personal relationships that inspire trust that can change the work culture. When relationships are established, employees are more likely to share when they need help and give more meaningful information about their condition to their therapist—this type of prevention coaching results in early intervention, which leads to fewer injuries.
Proactive Risk Identification with Work Safe Rounds Minimize Workplace Hazards - Work safe rounds are when onsite PTs continuously examine the workplace and interact with workers to monitor and rectify emerging ergonomic risks, workplace hazards, and potential health issues. Therapist observations and knowledge of human performance help minimize health and hazard risks. Onsite therapists' presence and availability in work areas help foster mutual respect and team accountability through routine engagement with workers and other stakeholders.
Drive Safety Awareness with Increased Training on Safety & Risk Prevention - Education on safety and risk is essential for employee health and wellbeing. Onsite PTs offer targeted instruction and learning experiences that foster knowledge, skill, and practical problem-solving strategies. Educational content often focuses on body movements to reduce stress and muscle fatigue, how the body responds to pain, managing physical stressors, the natural course of healing for musculoskeletal problems, coping measures, and preservation of function. Additional curriculum topics include micro-breaking education, material handling techniques, and self-care. Onsite education programs can be general or oriented to a specific department or worker.
Proactive Onsite Prevention Programs for Injury Prevention - Onsite PTs lead exercise wellness programs that include general or work-specific activities that prepare the body for activity and encourage healthy tissue function during work activities. These exercise programs may involve stretching, warm-up activities, and body area-specific wellness programs. Frequently held before a work shift starts, they can get employees ready for their day and help prevent injuries.
Establish Trust with Better Employee Communication and Engagement - Continuous employee communication is an essential component of a world-class safety culture. Having well-trained clinicians onsite ensures that safety rules and procedures are documented, communicated, and continually updated, consequently improving employee engagement while preventing injuries. Furthermore, the onsite therapist ensures Functional Job Descriptions (FJD) is modified and updated regularly to meet the demands of the job and the employees' capability.
Improved Employee Morale - Organizations send a strong signal that it is committed to employee wellbeing. In turn, that message can enhance trust between employees and their employer, helping workers feel happier and more productive. When employees have access to onsite services, it helps them feel better and work more safely. And with a higher level of job satisfaction, these workers are more inclined to stay with their employer and work harder at their jobs.
Increased Productivity and Reduced Presenteeism - Presenteeism, the problem of workers being on the job but, because of illness or other medical conditions, not fully functioning, is a common issue with staff suffering from MSK disorders (MSD). When employees do not feel well, they do not perform at their best. Onsite PT programs proactively screen for MSDs, offer treatment and ongoing health and safety education to improve employee productivity.
Fewer Injuries and Less Absenteeism - Healthy employees do not miss work; however, injured employees do. Onsite therapies reduce the average employee's time away from work. When therapists are onsite, it eliminates the need for an employee to drive to and from an offsite facility for treatment. And because an onsite PT can shorten injured employees' recovery times, the staff is back to work more quickly. Plus, onsite offerings such as exercise programs, safety training, education, and ergonomics processes result in fewer injuries.
Injuries Caught Earlier Facilitate Faster Recovery Times - Onsite PTs catch injuries early. Being onsite enables the physical therapist to identify and treat workers' injuries early on to prevent injuries from getting worse. With an onsite physical therapy clinic, employees can get treatment for injuries right at the workplace more quickly and easily. By providing convenient, easy access to onsite therapy services, injured employees are more apt to show up for their appointments and get the treatments they need, leading to faster healing.
MSK Wellness Equals Better Total Worker Health - Musculoskeletal wellness is the foundation of overall health and wellbeing. Being free of pain allows increased mobility, which helps establish a more prolonged and higher quality work and life situation. Working and exercise reduce financial concerns, lessen stress and anxiety, aids with depression, and decrease risk factors for heart problems, diabetes, obesity, and addiction. Musculoskeletal wellness enables people to live a fuller life. When workers can engage in more activities, they can socialize more with family and friends and enjoy better mental health.
Improved Ergonomics for Better Comfort, Productivity, and Decreased Injury Risk - Ergonomics, when the workplace is designed to meet job demands and suit workers' capabilities, can reduce MSDs. Workers come in all sizes, so matching job tasks to the individual's capabilities can help lessen muscle fatigue, minimize discomfort, and maximize safe work performance. When onsite physical therapists regularly conduct safe work rounds to look at the tasks performed and match them with the worker's capabilities. If required, the PT can redesign how the task supports good posture or requires fewer motions and less exertion. These changes can make workers more comfortable and productive while minimizing injury risk.
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