Lack of physical fitness (in particular muscle imbalance and inflexibility) is a primary risk factor for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) (Whiting & Zernicke, 1998) and is increasingly being addressed by worksite stretching programs. These programs can take many forms, from "canned" programs using posters and videos, to computer based programs and "apps" that prompt workers to perform a series of stretches. Some employers have developed custom programs using physical therapists to design stretches specific to the worksite. However, these programs will not survive on their own, no matter how well designed, unless they are integrated into the management process in the same way as quality or productivity.
To be successful in building a fit workforce, many factors should be considered. At a minimum they include management commitment, supervisor training, team building, improving the psychosocial climate, recognition and rewards, and a solid accountability system (Drennan, Richey, 2012), as well as a well-designed strength and flexibility exercise (SAFE) program. This article focuses on five processes identified as essential for program success based on 15 year's experience deploying SAFE programs in diverse industrial settings. Without these essential processes, a SAFE program will sit on the sidelines, lose momentum, and fail to produce the desired result: a healthier, safer, and more productive workforce.