The Role of Athletic Trainers in Construction Site Injury Prevention
Work-related injuries cost employers billions each year — an estimated $167 billion in 2021 alone, according to the National Safety Council. Add onto that the estimated cost ($13.8 billion that same year) of losses not covered by insurance, such as the value of time lost as the result of injuries and the time spent to investigate accidents, and it’s obvious that prevention of on-the-job injuries is critical to ensuring the long-term financial health of your business.
But true injury prevention must go beyond enacting safety policies and holding safety training sessions. Having experienced professionals onsite to evaluate your construction site and make recommendations for improvements, as well as working with your employees to foster a culture of worksite safety, can mean all the difference between chronic job-related injuries and reduced accidents.
Medcor’s employee health clinics, which now offer Integrated Injury Prevention services in partnership with Work RightNW, help your employees stay safe and healthy through a variety of conditions. These services benefit construction sites by reducing the instance of on-the-job injuries, intervening quickly when injuries do happen and reducing healthcare costs for employers.
Ergonomic Assessments Stop Overuse Injuries Before They Happen
Repetitive use injuries are a common cause of workers’ compensation claims, and they can often be prevented by ensuring that workstations are set up ergonomically. Other common injury types, including overexertion, slip and falls and strains and sprains can be prevented with proper ergonomic design.
These assessments go beyond checking that chairs and desks are set up correctly; they include evaluating the likelihood of bending or twisting when lifting, determining whether there is adequate machinery to assist in moving heavy loads and more. During a professional ergonomic assessment, Medcor’s athletic trainers observe your workers in action and make recommendations for improvements that could decrease the chances your workers will be injured.
Toolbox Talks Educate Workers to Avoid Hazards
Occasionally communicating your worksite’s safety policies and procedures isn’t enough. You must frequently touch base with your team, giving them updates to the policy and checking that they’re following those policies and procedures for them to be effective.
Medcor’s onsite teams host Toolbox Talks, a “lunch and learn” opportunity for construction site teams. These sessions not only cover existing safety policies and how to implement them, but they also encourage wellness behaviors to keep workers healthy and high-performing. These are designed to be fairly informal, friendly sessions that help your workers build rapport with their onsite team, building confidence that they’ll be cared for if they do experience a workplace injury.
Musculoskeletal Training and Conditioning Builds Healthier Workers
Musculoskeletal injuries are among the most common — and most expensive — workplace injuries. They are also some of the most preventable, as teaching workers to correctly bend and lift while also showing them exercises to stretch and warm up their muscles helps them avoid overexertion and injury. The National Safety Council reports that, in 2019 and 2020, lower back injuries cost employers an average of nearly $38,000 each, and arm and shoulder injuries cost an average of more than $49,000 each.
Onsite athletic trainers and other healthcare professionals can help your team prevent these types of injuries or, at the very least, decrease their severity. By having an extra set of eyes on those who engage in frequent bending, twisting and lifting behaviors, you can catch and correct improper technique more quickly, reducing the likelihood of injury. They also can work with your team to teach proper form, as well as stretching and strengthening exercises, that keep your workers healthier and reduce the risk of overexertion.
Onsite Visits Increase Worker Productivity
When a worker is injured on the job, their recovery means they must miss work hours to attend offsite doctor and therapy appointments. This can significantly decrease your team’s overall productivity, as you’re down one worker and the rest of the team must adjust to their absence. In 2021, an estimated 70 million days of work were lost related to injuries workers sustained that year, with an additional 33 million days lost in 2021 due to injuries from prior years.
Keeping care onsite helps you increase the productivity of your workers, even when someone is injured. Those employees with minor injuries can be evaluated and treated promptly, potentially returning to duties that same day. Those who may require more follow-up, such as workers with longer-term injuries that require healing but don’t prevent them from working, can be seen at the onsite clinic on their lunch hour or for short periods of time during the workday. They then return to work more quickly, keeping everyone on task.
Workers Return to Duties Faster After an Injury
In a traditional worksite setup, injured workers must go offsite — to their regular healthcare provider, an urgent care facility or the emergency room — to have their injuries evaluated after even minor accidents. Visiting multiple providers can mean your worker receives conflicting care recommendations, or even unnecessary treatment. This can delay their return to work, costing you more in workers’ compensation costs and productivity losses.
By having Medcor’s skilled healthcare providers at an onsite clinic, workers can get their injuries evaluated immediately. In many cases, first aid can be rendered onsite and the employee returns to work that same day. For those times when offsite or more extensive care is required, someone onsite can monitor the employee’s care and ensure their healing is progressing well. This level of involvement in your injured workers’ care helps them feel supported, making them more likely to follow care recommendations and return to work more quickly.
The Bottom Line
Your workers deserve to feel safe and supported in their health at work. When they do, they’re more likely to give you quality work, stay employed with you longer and help spread the word about how great your business is. Athletic trainers and onsite clinics are a worthwhile investment in your business, with upfront costs paying dividends over the years as you’re more able to respond quickly when injuries happen, get injured employees back to work faster and decrease the chances of work-related injuries in the future.
Learn more about how adding Integrated Injury Prevention to your onsite clinic and safety programs can transform health and safety at your jobsite by connecting with us today.