Post Crisis Injury Explosion:  What you need to know

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 18, 2020 9:00:00 AM / by Deborah Lechner

What’s the last thing you want to deal with after the COVID-19 Crisis is over?  Most likely, at the top of your list, is an explosion of injuries among returning workers.

If you are sending your industrial athletes home due to a lack of work, you are not alone.  And there is a very real possibility that this could last for weeks or even months. So, what is going to happen when this all ends and, eager to make up for COVID-19 losses, you ask your now deconditioned workforce to work faster and do more?

When we play out the scenario of your employees not working for an extended period of time and then suddenly returning to their regular duties, a significant increase in injury rates is a virtual certainty. Consider the fact that muscles begin to atrophy (weaken and decrease in size) in as little as 72 hours when they are underused or neglected. Let’s face it, most employees’ only physical activity comes from doing their jobs. Even workers who exercise are going to lose their job-specific conditioning.  When your employees finally return to their normal schedules, they are going to be extremely deconditioned and vulnerable to injury.

The figure below, distributed by NCCI (National Council on Compensation Insurance), supports our concern.

Look at what happened in 2010 when we were finally climbing out of the recession and companies were ramping up operations. It was the only time in 20 years when injury rates increased!  An increase in hiring, overtime hours, and accelerated work pace most certainly had an impact, along with workers being physically unprepared to safely do their job after a long layoff.

So, what can be done to help maintain the physical and emotional resiliency of our industrial athletes as well as minimize any additional financial drain and operational breakdown caused by an increase in work-related injuries? ErgoScience is partnering with Pro Workforce Performance to deliver a low-cost solution that will allow companies whose operations will either be halted or greatly reduced to remotely share resources with their employees, helping to keep them healthy and fit for duty through job-specific exercises, regardless of their employment status.

A mobile application engages employees remotely with job-specific exercise content, sends daily exercise reminders, tracks compliance, and produces management reports to monitor the effectiveness of the program. The job-specific exercises condition job-specific muscles and motions so that when employees eventually return to work, they are able to avoid straining vulnerable muscles, joints and tendons. All programs also include additional mindfulness and breathing exercises to help reduce stress and anxiety. With all of the current fear and uncertainty, these practices are essential. 

Perhaps your head is still reeling from just navigating the inevitable cutbacks due to COVID-19 and it’s hard to think about the implications of a sudden end to it all.  But truly successful businesses are those who are proactive. And in this case being proactive means that you won’t have to deal with the added complication of a surge of injuries as you ramp back up into full swing.  The last thing you’ll want is another epidemic!  Let us help you avoid this headache. 

Rather than dwelling on everything that we can’t do, let’s shift our focus and help our industrial athletes in by guiding them to resources and tools that will help them maintain their much-needed level of job-specific fitness.



Deborah Lechner

Written by Deborah Lechner

Deborah Lechner, ErgoScience President, combines an extensive research background with 25-plus years of clinical experience. Under her leadership, ErgoScience continues to use the science of work to improve workplace safety, productivity and profitability.