What Are Your Safety Colleagues Doing to Prevent MSDs?

What Are Your Safety Colleagues Doing to Prevent MSDs?
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ErgoScience loves to share information with Safety Professionals about the strategic approaches to prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) – think strains and sprains. And on May 25th, we co-hosted a webinar on that topic with EHS Today. We were honored to present to over 140 Safety professionals.

During this presentation, we covered Hire-to-Retire MSD PreventionTM starting with physical demands job analysis which really is the foundation for all other MSD prevention. We pointed out that developing Pre-Hire/Post-Offer Physical Abilities Testing (PAT) is a logical first step in MSD prevention. After all, if new hires don’t have the physical ability to do the job, the likelihood of injury dramatically increases.

We also acknowledged that not all employers can eliminate applicants due to the workforce shortage. For those companies, we discussed the effectiveness of using PAT for placement and the possibility of a ramp-in approach to new hires.

For the existing workforce, we discussed ergonomic assessment, abatement, training, and early intervention for early signs of MSDs. We offered strategies for return-to-work post-injury, including Fitness for Duty Testing, work conditioning, and temporary modified duty.

We shared information about the latest technology, ComputerVision AI and wearable sensors, that we’ve incorporated into our ergonomic assessments and training.

As part of that presentation, we released some polling questions to find out what the audience had implemented to prevent MSDs.  Here’s some of the great information we uncovered:

  • Two-thirds of the audience had performed a detailed job analysis of the physical requirements of the job.
  • Nineteen percent were performing pre-hire/post-offer Physical Abilities Testing (PAT)
  • Ninety-eight percent had never used ComputerVision AI or wearable sensors.
  • Thirteen percent were doing an Early Intervention Program.
  • And fourteen percent had implemented return-to-work testing.
  • Most of the attendees had challenges with preventing MSDs and primarily relied on training as a strategy for MSD prevention.

We asked about the most effective MSD prevention program that attendees had implemented. The most frequently mentioned was training. We asked about their biggest concerns when it comes to implementing programs, and over half mentioned cost, and nearly 30% mentioned lacking the internal bandwidth for implementation.

So, what’s the take-home message from all this polling?

While training is an important component of safety, when it comes to preventing MSDs, it’s likely not the strategy that will get the most robust results.

Consider these statistics:

  • ErgoScience outcomes studies show that, on average, companies realize a 73% decrease in total incurred costs for MSDs if they conduct post-offer/pre-hire PAT on their job applicants.
  • Cost is a concern, but ROI is even more important, and with the right partner, most of these programs can be rolled out with little effort on the company’s part. Ask any C-Suite executive, and they’ll tell you – that the one thing more important than savings is ROI. In our outcome studies, ErgoScience finds that the average ROI for pre-hire PAT is 14:1.
  • Eighty percent of employees who attend Early Intervention Programs (think OSHA first aid for early musculoskeletal discomfort) resolve their pain and dysfunction in 5 or fewer visits and have no need for medical care beyond first aid.

Despite these statistics, less than twenty percent of our EHS Today webinar attendees reported taking advantage of these powerful programs!

How does your organization compare?

If you, like our attendees, are missing out on the opportunity to significantly reduce workplace MSDs, contact us to start a conversation and discover which program makes the most sense for your organization!

Deborah Lechner

Deborah Lechner

Deborah Lechner, ErgoScience President, combines an extensive research background with 25-plus years of clinical experience. Under her leadership, ErgoScience continues to use the science of work to improve workplace safety, productivity and profitability.
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