All too often, workers don’t learn the necessary skills and knowledge to avoid injuries until they have already been injured. It’s only in physical therapy that they learn the proper postures and movement to recover from and avoid injuries in the future.
Injury prevention shouldn’t be reactive, it should be proactive. Workers need to be trained and educated on how to move in a way that is healthy and safe for their bodies. With the right postures and movements, physical work has the potential to be fulfilling and strengthening. It comes back to a work culture that is centered around workers’ health and safety. This type of work culture helps instill a deep understanding of the importance of healthy movement to prevent any future injuries.
Incorporating proper posture and movement into the health and safety program at your work can help prevent common musculoskeletal injuries and their symptoms. Our MoveSafeⓇ Program is designed to do exactly that. As experts in this area, we have devised seven tips to create a culture of safe movement in the workplace. Try these tips to instill these beliefs in your work culture.
1. Establish leadership commitment
No program at work will be successful in the long term without engaged leaders who actively support the program. Leaders need to ‘walk the talk’ and make healthy posture and movement part of their own day. From this personal experience, they can authentically support and speak to the value of similar habits for everyone.
2. Host workshops to educate your team
Regular workshops are an effective way of educating your team about safe movements because you can get your workers involved in the learning process and show physical demonstrations. Lunch and learns or paid training sessions on a monthly basis will encourage workers to actively participate in creating this culture of safety. As a result of these workshops, workers will develop a deeper understanding of injury prevention and a stronger sense of ownership.
3. Use simple visual references
A picture is worth a thousand words. Providing photos, drawings or videos of proper posture are the best way to show workers how to safely execute physical work and avoid injury. Displaying these images throughout workstations and break areas can help instill the importance of these movements. A glance here and there will constantly remind them of proper posture and keep it top of mind.
4. Recruit team members to champion your cause
Managers, supervisors and workers need to work together to create this culture shift. Recruiting volunteers from your team to lead your safe movement program can increase accountability and encourage workers to help each other out in the field. Reminding each other of proper posture will help your program gain momentum and become embedded in your work culture.
5. Outline safe movement in your health and safety documents
Outlining proper postures in your company’s health and safety documents is an essential step in creating a culture of safe movement. Depending on the type of work that is typical in your workers’ duties, you’ll want to accurately describe and provide images of best practices for properly executing these movements.
It is helpful to provide examples of good and bad postures, and how to avoid typical injuries in their area of work. By simply addressing this need for documentation, workers will have the necessary resources that they can reference when they are completing physical tasks. MoveSafe can help your company identify frequent movements in your work and outline the proper postures for them.
6. Review reporting procedures
Our experience is that many incidents that relate to ergonomics and musculoskeletal injuries are not properly identified. The lack of quality data often hides the true extent of the issue and prevents some of the significant causes from being seen. Your first focus should be on collecting the right information. Factors relating to the cause of the incident need to be separated from the outcome to help better identify causes that might be related to ergonomics and outcomes that are related to strains and sprains. Body positions are important to capture to better understand why a simple movement that has been performed many times before without incident, suddenly (and unexpectedly) created an incident today.
7. Track and communicate progress
Tracking injuries before and after rolling out your safety initiatives will help demonstrate progress. Once workers begin to see the positive effects of the program, they will begin to feel more engaged in building a culture of safe movement. Communicating and rewarding progress help workers feel like their participation is beneficial not only to their own health but to the entire organization.
Creating a culture of safe movement in the workplace will help your company leave the reactive world of injury management and head towards the proactive world of injury prevention. A work culture centered around healthy movement can boost productivity and ultimately improve your workers’ quality of life.
The MoveSafeⓇ Program is a comprehensive injury prevention process that covers body preparation and maintenance, ergonomics and safe movement. As experts in musculoskeletal injury prevention, we are able to identify common ergonomic risks that can lead to injury. Implementing a preventative approach to injuries in the workplace will remove many workplace concerns and allow workers to grow stronger and healthier from physical work.
The MoveSafeⓇ Program helps organizations implement healthy posture and movement habits to reduce human and financial costs of musculoskeletal injuries. We work with organizations across a variety of industries including Energy and Utilities, Oil and Gas, Forestry, Manufacturing, Mining, Municipalities and Office Environments across Canada as well as the United States.