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Science in Action: Using Biomechanics Training to Prevent Occupational Injuries

Workers' Compensation Claims and Cost, Wellness |
Written by Kevin Lombardo

The ever-present risk of costly injuries has companies in all industries seeking innovative solutions to keep their workers healthy and safe on the job. With musculoskeletal disorders at the root of the bulk of workplace injuries and on the rise, managers are increasingly looking to integrate science-driven strategies that target the most common causes of MSD-related incidents: overexertion and improper body movements.

When combined, the two factors put workers at risk of back injuries, sprains and strains, and other acute tissue stress, injuries that too often force workers to file claims and seek treatment outside work. Many times, these issues manifest in the form of fatigue risks before an injury occurs. This leads to high costs for the organization, in claims and care as well as indirect costs that result from losses in productivity and rising presenteeism.

The field of biomechanics offers managers a new lens through which they can observe and understand their workers’ needs. An interdisciplinary field that applies knowledge from biology, physics, anatomy, and engineering, biomechanics is the study of the movement of the body and the various forces and interactions that influence how we go about our lives—and how we do our jobs.

 

Why Do You Need Biomechanics Training?

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for a large portion of occupational injuries, and are reported as a root cause in about a quarter of all workplace safety incidents (2007-2016). Direct costs of these injuries total some $20 billion per year, plus indirect costs that reach three to five times the direct costs. This places a major burden on employers, incentivizing innovation in how we treat workers’ bodies. These factors can be especially costly for employers in manufacturing, transportation, and even health care, where workers are commonly injured assisting or moving patients.

The combined scientific approach of biomechanics provides a holistic, data-driven look at how an employee’s body—their specific anatomical traits and the movements they execute at work—plays into the risk of a musculoskeletal injury to that individual. By studying the forces at work in the movements most commonly associated with overexertion injuries—pulling, pushing, lifting, carrying, lowering, and holding—organizations can apply custom solutions to help workers correct risky task techniques and identify other hazards in their behaviors they might not understand are dangerous. Introducing training focused on biomechanics for workers helps them understand how to keep themselves safe—and it has the power to drastically reduce injuries. In fact, one study demonstrated:

  • Biomechanics training led to a 66% drop in injuries from lifting
  • An 89% drop in injuries from equipment handling after task-specific biomechanics instruction
  • Workers responded positively to biomechanics training, and reported greater understanding of the importance of pre-shift stretching and posture to their safety

Biomechanics in Practice: a Case Study

After observing staggeringly high injury rates to its workers in the field, one UPS district decided it was time to deploy a new biomechanics program that would aim to retrain workers. Their program included one-on-one coaching with employees by certified movement specialists who could identify risky behaviors and correct them before an injury could occur. Using solutions that were tailored to the specific needs of UPS workers, the program reported major success after just one year, when injuries fell by 50 percent. After a second year, the UPS district moved to the top of the company rankings in safety, and recorded a two-year drop in occupational injuries of 85 percent.

Biomechanics Training from DORN

At DORN Companies, we’ve applied our over 20 years of experience in helping workers avoid injuries to offer a suite of biomechanics-focused services that target risky movements and hazardous task techniques. Our solutions are varied and scalable to your needs, with applications ranging from enhanced training courses to departmental stretching regimens and on-site coaching. When combined with a program of manual therapy to address those with deep-rooted issues, your injury rates and associated costs will drop significantly. We engage directly with workers to understand their needs and provide specific fixes that cut injury risks and demonstrate your organization’s commitment to worker safety.

If you’d like to learn more about how DORN can help you establish a safer, more productive workplace through applied biomechanics services, please click the link below or call us at 888-870-8828 to schedule a free consultation.

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About the Author

Kevin Lombardo

CEO & President at DORN Companies
Kevin is Senior Executive and widely recognized thought leader in workers’
compensation, Total Worker Health, and wellness with a focus on workplace injury prevention and onsite innovative therapy solutions.
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