How Physiotherapy Can Treat Workplace Injuries
Workplace injuries, particularly those of the musculoskeletal variety, can be a source of concern to both employer and employee. While the injured employee contends with potential loss of income and medical treatment, the employer has to keep the business running minus a staff member. For this reason, it is in the interest of employers and employees to combat workplace injuries.
The most common type of workplace injuries are manual handling injuries – in fact, one in three Australian workplace injuries are related to manual handling. These can be caused by lifting, carrying, pulling, pushing, holding or retraining heavy loads. In manual handling injuries, the back is the area of the body most commonly affected.
Static postures such as prolonged sitting is a looming problem in many workplaces and injuries that come on gradually as a result of not moving are becoming a lot more common. Hip stiffness, mid & low back pain and neck pain are common sites of this type of chronic injury.
Repetitive motion injuries are another common form of workplace injury. These are caused by repeating the same motion over a long period of time – office and factories workers are most commonly afflicted. Back pain, vision problems and carpal tunnel syndrome are the most common repetitive motion injuries.
A physiotherapist can help to relieve the pain associated with workplace injuries, as well as helping you to identify risk factors within your workplace. By using their knowledge of musculoskeletal function, the injury process and workplace ergonomics, they can tailor a treatment plan to treat the injury and ease you back into work, ultimately minimising the financial losses associated with long absentees. Their assessment can also help with WorkCover claims.
Your physiotherapist will be able to provide personalised advice on:
- ergonomic recommendations for your workplace,
- workplace practices to prevent a flare up or reoccurrence of the injury,
- preventative measures such as posture and stretching exercises.
Prevention is the best cure and evidence-based research shows that early intervention and workplace physiotherapy training can help employers avoid the costs associated with workplace injuries. For this reason, some managers employ physiotherapists pre-emptively to prevent workplace injury from occurring.
Employers can further minimise the rate of workplace injury by implementing and educating staff on ergonomics. Managers should conduct a risk assessment plan for the workplace and train staff to recognise and rectify unsafe work practices. Some examples of ergonomic solutions a manager might employ includes:
- Replacing furniture and equipment with ergonomically designed models,
- Re-arranging the workspace into a safe and efficient configuration,
- Providing aids for transporting heavy loads,
- Ensuring all staff are training properly.
Staff members can employ work safe measures such as:
- Taking frequent breaks,
- Varying tasks to avoid repeating the same motion for too long
- Get up from the desk
- Stretching before and after manual activities.
For more information on workplace injury prevention and treatment, book an appointment with Paddington Physio and Podiatry Brisbane by calling (07) 3511 6352 or filling out an appointment form.