- Australian Bureau of Statistics Data on workplace injury revealed that 6.4% of employed Australian’s were injured at work.
- Strains and Sprains were the most common injury type accounting for 30% of all those injuries.
- Chronic joint or muscle conditions accounted for 19% of injuries
- Cuts or open wounds accounted for another 19%.
- Fractures and crush injuries accounted for around 10% of injuries.
Therefore almost half of all Australian workplace injuries comprised what we would term a soft tissue injury.
In AFL football muscular strains (Hamstrings and groins in particular) and ligamentous injuries to knees and ankles have the highest prevalence in the “AFL Injury Report”.
In the manufacturing industry workers are required to perform job tasks that require strength, agility, coordination, skill and endurance. These are the very same attributes necessary to perform well in sporting pursuits such as AFL football.
It is for this reason that we like to associate these workers with sports people or more precisely refer to them as “Industrial Athletes”.
Early diagnosis and treatment, corrective exercise and physical conditioning programs are the corner stone of an athletes return to sport plan.
It is therefore common sense that exercise intervention for injured workers should involve the same degree of focus and specificity, as has become accepted practice in the sporting arena.
The two most commonly associated injury types are those resulting from;
- REPETITIVE sub-maximal loading – i.e: Movement Patterns
- SUSTAINED sub-maximal loading – i.e: Postures
The physical demands faced by Industrial workers are not dissimilar to those that are experienced by sports athletes.
- The activities may be Physically Demanding – often challenging
- They may require good levels of Strength / Endurance / Mobility / Flexibility / Balance
- The activities may place strong demands on the Spine and Joints.
- They may involve performance pressures – standards / Evaluations / Production speeds
- They may involve Competitive pressure – time constraints / deadlines / competitors
So from a Performance and Injury Prevention perspective, just like athletes, workers need to be encouraged to invest time into maintaining their physical fitness and capability, if they are to meet performance expectations, and do so without sustaining injury!
However, in today’s increasingly sedentary society, the fitness levels of many industrial workers resemble that of a spectator, not an able athlete.
Lets consider some factors that may be contributing to workplace injury and recovery rates:
- Age (ageing workforce)
- Obesity levels
- Declining community health and fitness levels
- Sedentary lifestyles
- Poor nutrition
- Prevalence of flexed or bent postures in everyday life
Now, factor in the repetitive or sustained demands of many work tasks, and is it any wonder workplace injury rates are on the increase.
The goal of rehabilitating and returning workers to optimal function post-injury should be just as aggressively pursued as it is in getting injured athletes back on the field.
The Rehabilitation teams in an AFL sporting club comprise predominantly of Sports Medicine Doctors, Physiotherapists, Strength and Conditioning staff and Remedial Masseurs. The Corio Bay Sports Treatment Clinic can provide all of these services as required for each specific individual’s needs.
What about Prevention? (How to be pro-active rather than re-active)
In order to prevent injuries from occurring in sporting clubs athletes are screened to determine any specific deficiencies that they may have with their musculoskeletal system. This information is used to identify what the best conditioning and fitness program should be utilised in achieving the best performance outcomes and minimising injury risk. Analysis of biomechanics and technique with subsequent correction strategies are also highly valued skills that physiotherapists have that are essential in athletic injury management.
It is therefore imperative in the workplace to also monitor and measure workers who may have developed deficiencies over time that may make them more vulnerable to injury. Ergonomic assessment of manual handling tasks and specific workers technique is also extremely beneficial in injury management and prevention because this essentially addresses the cause of the problem.
Our Staff have developed a comprehensive screening tool that assesses not only the musculoskeletal health of the worker but also the cardiovascular and general health and lifestyle factors that can contribute to injury or illness and therefore absenteeism from work. This combined with workplace risk assessment and analysis is essential to developing strategies for improving the safety of your workforce.
These Prevention strategies will most likely need to involve:
- Strength and conditioning programs for workers
- Manual Handling Training
- Recommendations for Mechanical Aids or modifications if necessary
- Lifestyle Education
If you and your company feel that all of the above makes good sense then we can help you to achieve the outcomes necessary to improve safety, productivity, morale and the general health of the workforce.
Please contact the clinic for more information or to arrange an appointment to discuss our services in more detail.