Sending your industrial athletes home due to COVID-19?

[fa icon="calendar'] Mar 20, 2020 2:25:24 PM / by Deborah Lechner

When employees are not working for an extended period of time and then suddenly return to their regular duties, a significant increase in injury rates is a virtual certainty. 

 Muscles begin to atrophy (weaken and decrease in size) in as little as 72 hours when they are underused or neglected. 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 deconditioned and vulnerable to injury.

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? The figure below, distributed by NCCI (National Council on Compensation Insurance), supports our concern. 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 workers’ compensation injury rates increased!

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An increase in hiring, overtime hours, and accelerated work pace most certainly had an impact on this uptick in injuries, along with workers being physically unprepared to safely do their job after a long layoff.

So, what will you need to do? How can you welcome the right employees back into the fold and identify those who are not physically qualified to do the work? An important and effective strategy is to perform return-to-work/fitness-for-duty testing. You’ll be asking them to do the most physically difficult aspects of their jobs to make sure they have the strength and flexibility to perform the work.

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Not only does matching the worker with the work help employers, it helps employees too. An OSHA report shows that workers earn 15% less over the next 10 years following an injury. So, with work-related injuries nobody wins – neither employer, employee nor the economy. And right now, we all need a win. Let’s make sure we bring the right workers back to the right jobs. https://www.osha.gov/Publications/inequality_michaels_june2015.pdf

Topics: Return to Work

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.