Prevention of onsite work injuries is the key to keeping employees safe, healthy, and productive. In the manufacturing setting, common injuries include overuse or repetitive injuries and overexertion injuries often associated with lifting. Education and vigilance helps to decrease these injuries.
Lifting using proper body mechanics should be taught during the orientation process along with different ways the manufacturer has provided to reduce or avoid lifting in the first place. Many employers provide high-low tables, pallet jacks, and rollers to decrease pushing and pulling force required along with other tools to reduce strain. An on-site physical therapist can provide the lifting education in tandem with the employer providing information on lifting or force reduction tools provided by the company.
Training team leaders to watch for repetitive use injuries can also go a long way to keeping employees pain-free and on the job. When an employee is bending or reaching in the same way over and over again, hour after hour, this can lead to injury. Training the leaders to recognize the signs of overuse and alert the employee of alternate ways to complete the task can decrease the repetitive strain on muscles and joints. An example could be alternating which arm reaches for a particular part or shifting body weight from one foot to the other every few minutes for stationary tasks. A physical therapist can provide this training to the team leaders, help brainstorm ideas for reducing the strain, provide education, and assist with periodic observations of the task.
Jessica Tharp, PT, MPT is a Physical Therapist in the Employer Based Clinic setting. Jessica received her Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Indianapolis. Throughout her career, she has treated a variety of various orthopedic and neurological diagnoses. Jessica has significant experience in treating back and neck pain as well as hip, knee, ankle, and shoulder injuries, including post-surgical rehab of the hip, knee, shoulder, and spine.