Benefits of Stretch and Flex Morning Safety Stretch Programs
Even as employee injuries remain a major concern for construction contractors, arguments against morning safety stretch programs continue to hinder employer commitment to stretch and flex application. No one doubts that stretching programs offer benefits. But some industry leaders argue that a reduction in musculoskeletal injuries cannot justify the expenditure of morning safety stretch routines.
Let us herein eliminate the resistance.
It starts by acknowledging the direct and the indirect expenses associated with employee injuries. Since construction work remains among the most dangerous occupations in the world, tracking and confirming direct injury-related costs is rather easy. According to NCBI documents, in 2005 over 150,000 non-fatal construction injuries and illnesses resulted in days away from work (NCBI, “Costs of Occupational Injuries in Construction in the United States.”). That rate of safety incidents and costs comes in at 71% higher than the total for all industries during that same time period.
Back sprains and other injuries to ligaments, muscles, or tendons account for nearly 37% of the construction-related injuries that result in days away from work. Fractures and dislocations make up an additional 12-percent of the loss workdays. Coming in with a price ticket of $1.8 billion plus, falls associated with floors, walkways and ground surfaces account for the primary costs of missed days from work in the construction industry.
The hidden costs or indirect costs of jobsite injuries reside in “days away from work.”
When employees miss work, employers must struggle to supply trained and qualified temporary replacement workers. Contractors may even have to devote additional time to training and safety discussions. And we must never forget the injury-associated increases in insurance costs. Overall, the costs that exceed basic medical expense for a typical jobsite injury come in at $5 per every $1.
Can Stretch and Flex Reduce The Costs of Musculoskeletal or Soft Tissue Injuries
A morning safety stretch seeks to elongate specific muscles in readiness for extended pressure. Practical evidence concludes that morning warm-up exercises can be beneficial in helping employees maintain better joint muscle flexibility. Furthermore, a morning safety stretch introduces certain beneficial psychological gains by serving as a gateway toward a workplace perception that management highly values employee health and safety.
Some opponents to stretch and flex programs point to the fact that big cats do not stretch before running down prey. That may be an accurate analogy. After all, researchers cannot effectively demonstrate that implemented stretching programs actually prevent jobsite musculoskeletal injuries.
However, scientific evidence indicates that implementation of OSHA’s ergonomic guidelines does result in a reduction of cumulative trauma injuries and the associated expenses of workers’ compensation. Yet compliance is not universally required.
All in all, construction firms fair better by implementing a comprehensive ergonomics program designed to address administrative and engineering controls. And then, perhaps as an inclusive element, introduce stretch and flex.
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