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Employers Already Addressing Injury-Prevention Through Ergonomics

A study explores how companies are addressing the problem of repetitive worksite injuries.

A recent study by Intracorp, a leader in health and disability management services, reveals that more than 50 percent of employers have been voluntarily budgeting for lost-time prevention services, prior to OSHA's proposed ergonomic standard.

The study explored how companies are affected by repetitive worksite injuries and how they are addressing the problem through injury-prevention initiatives.

Intracorp looked at employers that have at least 1,000 employees and operate in manufacturing, transportation communication, health and business services, or wholesale/retail.

The study revealed that those businesses investing in prevention services are less likely to have high rates of repetitive motion/cumulative trauma (RM/CT) injuries, while those without a specific lost-time budget are more likely to have high rates of RM/CT injuries.

For example, only 36 percent of the manufacturing companies survey devote resources to lost-time prevention services. Yet 70 percent of companies in that industry report a medium or high incidence of RM/CT injuries.

Conversely, 54 percent of health and business services companies devote resources to prevention and only 33 percent of companies in this industry report a medium or high incidence of RM/CT injuries.

Other study findings concluded that of the companies that have a specific budget for lost-time prevention services, 29 percent said that their budget is increasing, while 32 percent said it is decreasing.

Just over 40 percent of companies felt that they had a medium or high rate of RM/CT injuries. Manufacturing companies are significantly more likely to have RM/CT injuries (70 percent); incidence was lowest among transportation companies (23 percent).

"Repetitive motion injuries occur because of the risk factors present in the performance of work tasks," noted Connie Vaughn, director of prevention services for Intracorp. "Unless the risk factors are addressed, returning an employee to the same job, performed in the same way, will most likely yield re-injury."

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