Employee Jones to supervisor: “Hey boss, just want you to know I tweaked my back lifting that box of parts onto the conveyor. No big deal, I can continue working.”
Supervisor Smith to employee Jones: “OK, thanks for informing me. Let me know if it gets worse.”
Two weeks go by without another conversation. Monday morning, the facility manager gets a notification from the employee stating he has been placed on bed rest and given prescription medication after visiting the ER due to lower back pain. He has an appointment with the chiropractor tomorrow for a more detailed evaluation and a potential physical therapy schedule.
Manager to supervisor Smith: “Smitty, Jones is out indefinitely with a back injury. I got this letter from his doctor saying he is on meds and bed rest. He is scheduled to see a chiropractor. Did he tell you he hurt his back at work?”
Supervisor Smith to manager: “Oh yeah, he said something in passing a few weeks ago, but it didn’t sound like a big deal.”
All too often, what appears to be a minor sprain or strain escalates to a recordable injury because the only alternative for the employee is a trip to the ER or doctor’s office. Invariably the visit results in an anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxant prescription and/or chiropractic therapy; both defined by OSHA as recordable.
Alternatives for organizations
Active Release Techniques (ART) are a patented, movement-based, soft tissue treatment that is effective for treating strains, sprains and overuse conditions. It is wellness-based, non-invasive, hands-on therapy provided by licensed medical practitioners who have completed post-graduate certifications through Active Release Techniques.
ART is one of the fastest-growing treatment methods in sports rehab and physical therapy practices today, and it offers tremendous benefits to manufacturers and employees as well. ART was explicitly created to treat the damages associated with tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder pain, sciatica, knee problems and more.
Industry Applications Include:
- Overuse injuries (carpal tunnel syndrome);
- Repetitive motion disorders;
- Cumulative and older injuries (scar tissue);
- Musculoskeletal disorders; and
- Ergonomic workstation assessments.
When practicing the ART methodology, a therapist makes use of his or her hands to determine the tightness and movement of the fascia, muscles, ligaments, nerves and tendons. In doing so, the therapist is able to treat the abnormal tissues through tension precision, targeting specific movements.
ART therapy utilizes over 500 specific pain patterns to accurately identify the cause of an employee’s pain/syndrome, followed by physically working the problematic muscles with hands-on protocols. Employees usually respond rapidly to this specific movement-based form of care. In most cases, the improvement is permanent and/or long-lasting if the employee keeps up with self-directed stretches.
[NMK1] Since 2006, OSHA has formally recognized ART as a form of wellness/first aid when rendered to employees whose conditions have not yet exceeded the OSHA recordable threshold.
So what alternatives does an organization have? The answer is simple: If an employee has a muscular discomfort, but has not yet missed a day of work, had a job change, been put on restrictions or received medical attention greater than first aid, they may receive ART care as first aid.
Most cases will resolve or greatly improve in three to four sessions. A session lasts approximately 15 minutes and, in many cases, the ART provider can perform care on-site so that an employee does not need to leave the workplace.
How is the effectiveness of ART measured?
The ART practitioner will provide statistical tracking of employee treatment notes. All pertinent details on each case and their outcomes are compiled and presented in a quarterly report. The reporting system shows the company how many cases were seen, separating work-related cases from non-work-related cases. The provider will also design specific stretching and strengthening programs for each patient to prevent injuries from recurring. The key is to break the pattern contributing to the pain. Because pain isn’t often where the problem begins, an added benefit of ART is the practitioner’s knowledge of ergonomics makes them an invaluable asset in conducting ergonomic evaluations on problematic workstations which can help companies remediate potential issues in the future.
If you interested in providing better wellness care to your employees, consider Active Release Techniques. ART can be a potent tool in your toolbox of injury rehabilitation options. And it can be a game-changer when it comes to injury recovery and pain management for your employees.
Do you have an aging workforce? Want to demonstrate your care for employee wellness? Call for a demonstration. To find a listing of ART providers in your area, visit www.activerelease.com.
The ASA Safety Committee sponsored a webinar on the General Duty Clause presented by Bradford Hammock during the month of July. A recording of Brad’s presentation can be accessed by going to the ASA website at https://www.asa.net/Safety/Safety-Webinars. If your company is an ASA member and you would like to receive ongoing information from the ASA Safety Committee please contact Jim Kendzel at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will include you in the distribution list.