As we commemorate Labor Day, Dr. Mark Pucek, Chief Medical Officer with U.S. HealthWorks, shares his thoughts on how to reduce the rate of workplace injuries, and which injuries we treat most often at U.S. HealthWorks.
Millions of people report nonfatal workplace injuries each year – injuries that are all too common and seem to recur year after year. Accidents at work can happen in an instant: a minor slip, tripping over something, a shaky ladder, or forgetting to put on work gloves.
The important thing is to ensure that employees fully recover from workplace injuries – whether through physical therapy, chiropractic care or other care modalities – and get them back to good health to return to work.
U.S. HealthWorks operates more than 245 medical and worksite clinics nationwide in 21 states. The top five injuries that we treat include:
- Back sprain
- Finger cuts
- Arm or shoulder sprain
- Neck sprain
- Wrist sprain
This list is dominated by various types of sprains, which basically means the tearing or stretching of ligaments. Sprains can range from minor – healed with just a few days’ rest and icing – to severe, with major swelling and extreme pain. When not properly treated, sprains can result in chronic pain and joint instability.
These nonfatal injuries result in a loss of productivity in the workplace, stress for both the employer and injured employee, and obviously physical pain and discomfort for the injured employee. According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 1 million workplace injuries last year that resulted in days away from work, with a median of eight days missed due to nonfatal injuries.
The list of injuries remains relatively unchanged from years past. Despite efforts to ensure safe workplaces and train workers to prevent these common injuries, they still occur from time to time.
The most important thing to do once an injury occurs is to help the employee recover quickly and ensure he is fully rehabilitated so that the injury doesn’t cause lingering pain or discomfort. Full recovery is essential to employee health and safety.
While employers cannot prevent some of the workplace accidents that occur, there are a few ways to help reduce risk. We know that most follow OSHA guidelines, but a few sensible reminders are helpful:
- Ensure that walking and working spaces/surfaces are cleared of clutter and debris to prevent trips and falls
- Instruct all new employees on proper lifting of heavy objects, and have current employees revisit proper procedure annually
- Provide protective gear, including safety goggles, gloves, eye wash, etc., where necessary
- Never leave sharp corners or blades exposed
- Employees should be encouraged to stretch daily at home so they’re more limber and less susceptible to sprains
- Provide ergonomically appropriate chairs for those who sit frequently
Accidents happen, of course. The keys to prevention are to raise awareness and encourage proper safety practices; and, if an injury occurs, follow through with thorough treatment and healing so that individuals can recover quickly and get back to work safely.
Dr. Mark Pucek has served as Chief Medical Officer for U.S. HealthWorks since 2013. In this role he oversees medical operations for more than 245 medical and worksite clinics in 21 states, ensuring that each center provides quality care and efficient, effective service.
Photos courtesy of Valerie Everett and Josh Aitken @Flickr.