Preparing the Industrial Athlete for Work

A speaker at the National Safety Council's Congress touts preparation as the best reducer of musculoskeletal injuries in the workplace.

Professional athletes do not just walk onto the playing field and participate in their sport without properly warming up. They want to ensure that their bodies are prepared for the work at hand.

Why should it be any different for workers at manufacturing and construction sites?

It shouldn't be any different, claims Dr. Stephen M. Grennan, director of occupational biomechanics at Frederic D. Rine & Associates, a safety and health training and consulting firm in Nashville, Tenn.

Employees in jobs prone to musculoskeletal and repetitive motion disorders need to prepare for each day and different tasks by stretching and warming up, just as an athlete would do before a game, Grennan told attendees.

Becoming industrial athletes, Grennan said, workers can lead safer, more comfortable lives on and off the job.

Many industrial injuries are of the soft-tissue nature. By getting the muscles prepared for daily activity, the body is given a protection against those moments of strain.

Grennan has developed the Preparing the Industrial Athlete program, a stretching and strengthening routine that is job specific and targets muscles that are being repeatedly used during the course of the work day.

Because of the various types of work positions found in construction, for example, preparing the body for the work day can prepare the body for repetitive tasks, he said.

Grennan said companies that have implemented the program have found that employees are responsive to exercises and realize that getting their bodies ready for work makes good sense.

He said that about five minutes of excercise is all it takes. Just as machines need lubrication to work properly, stretching and exercising lubricates teh body's joints, resulting in easier movement.

The result is that workers can go home each day without aches and pains.

Todd Nighswonger

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