In 2005, musculoskeletal injuries accounted for 54% of all work-related injuries at Hoffman Construction Corporation. Upon review of OSHA recordables, workers' compensation claims and incident reports, it was apparent that changes in the current program were needed to address issues contributing to musculoskeletal injuries. Attributes that were identified as contributing to this increase included work intensity that reduces recovery time of muscles and soft tissues, an aging workforce that has contributed to a shortage of skilled crafts persons, and inconsistent use of the previous voluntary stretch and flex program. In addition, there was a general lack of knowledge and awareness of proper body mechanics during essential job tasks, ergonomics, and the physiology of stretching and neutral posture. It became apparent to Hoffman's safety leadership that in order to design a more effective program it would be necessary to outsource to a company or individual with a deep understanding of biomechanics, pathophysiology, and a proven track record of preventing musculoskeletal injuries. As the director of Therapeutic Associates' Work Kinetics program, Shawnalea Shelly is an Occupational Therapist and Certified Ergonomist with extensive experience in the prevention of occupational musculoskeletal injuries. Therapeutic Associates, Inc. is nationally recognized as a regional provider of physical rehabilitation services.
The Craft-Specific Injury Prevention Program at Hoffman Construction consists of 3 components, Craft-Specific Stretch and Flex, Craft-Specific Ergonomics, and Early Reporting and Early Intervention and is viewed as a "live" process with significant behavioral and learning components. Stakeholders in the Craft-Specific Injury Prevention Program were identified as Safety Professionals, Subcontractors, Superintendents, Crew Foremen, and Craft Workers. The goals of the program are:
Reduce ergonomics related workers' compensation claims
Reduce severity of soft tissue claims
Demonstrate to workers and stakeholders that Hoffman cares about the health of workers
From the initial phase of implementation, workers and management team members have improved awareness and understanding of stretching, injury risk factors, and ergonomic principles. As a result of improved awareness and knowledge there have been questions from workers that have been easily addressed with simple modifications of stretches and work activities. Intermittent, informal site visits offer workers and management team members the opportunity to ask questions in a non-threatening environment and receive personalized instruction regarding stretches and simple job task modifications. On a quarterly or semi-annual basis, each site and craft receives on-going instruction/information sessions to:
Refresh and reiterate stretching, ergonomics, health, and injury prevention information
Answer questions from workers and supervisors
Provide new layers of information as appropriate.