Travelers Insurance Company recently released an impact report of more than 1.2 million workers' compensation claims. According to the report, employees in their first year on a job, regardless of age or industry experience, represented more than one-third (34%) of all claims and accounted for nearly 7 million missed workdays due to injury. Furthermore, sprains and strains were the most frequent, resulting in injury across all claims (38%).
According to OSHA, the direct cost of a sprain or strain is estimated at $60K, and the indirect cost is even higher at $70K. One injury could cost an employer more than $130K.
Does your organization have a problem with new hire injuries? Are sprains and strains a common injury among your new employees? By understanding your organization’s new hire injury data, you can help identify where additional safety initiatives may help your new employees stay safe and on the job. Employees are typically out of work for 60 days due to a strain or sprain.
Here are some best practices to reduce new hire injuries focusing on strains and sprains:
1. Develop Functional Job Descriptions Job safety begins with a thorough understanding of the actual physical requirements that each job entails. A functional job analysis will Identify and objectively measure the critical physical demands of a job. The functional job analysis results in a written functional job description (FJD) listing skills required for each identified job activity. The job description is critical during the hiring process to inform job candidates of the job's physical demands.
2. Perform Site Ergonomic Review Once you've codified the physical demands of each job, the second stage of job safety is to eliminate any barriers to peak performance.
An ergonomic site review can pinpoint these areas to help you reduce future risks: • Identification of individual jobs/tasks that pose risks of musculoskeletal (MSK) problems • Onsite observation and analysis of the jobs/tasks being performed • Analysis of ergonomic solutions most likely to optimize job performance
Employers can use the ergonomic review to make jobs safer and to educate employees on best practices to avoid injury.
3. Implement a Post-Offer Employment Test A Post-Offer Employment Test (POET) is a post-offer/pre-hire physical abilities exam performed by medical professionals, such as a Physical Therapist (PT) or a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA). The functional screen represents the essential functions or critical demands of the job that has been offered and is designed to determine if the job candidate can safely perform the job. The POET is developed from information in the functional job description.
According to Liberty Mutual, overexertion, lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, or carrying costs employers $13.4 billion yearly due to the onset of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).
Employers can keep employees safe and on the job by focusing on the foundation of a strong safety culture, understanding job requirements, and adding a POET program to ensure that candidates are physically capable of performing their job duties. Employers implementing a POET program typically experience a 25%-50% decrease in strains and sprains-type injuries.