Importance of Physical Therapy as Part of Your Workers Wellness Program

Importance of Physical Therapy as Part of Your Workers Wellness Program

While it is necessary for an employer to have a plan in place to manage a workers’ compensation claim to ensure appropriate care is being delivered to assist the injured worker to return-to-work, the goal should be preventing injuries from happening in the first place. Healthier employees and injury prevention programs lead to a safer workplace. It’s very important to have employee injury prevention programs in the workplace, and there are many benefits of such programs.    

What is an injury and illness prevention program? 

An injury and illness prevention program is a basic safety plan. The overall goal of this plan is to reduce the likelihood of a workers’ compensation claim from occurring and lower costs for the employer. Musculoskeletal injuries such as strains, sprains, tendonitis, bursitis, spinal disc injuries, etc., make up most workers’ compensation claims. The most common injuries are caused by accidents such as slips, falls, cuts, and repetitive stresses during job demands.

By promoting and providing injury and illness prevention programs in the workplace, your employees will gain a better understanding on how to perform their job demands safely, reduce exposure to hazards, and gain clarity on what the employer’s return-to-work expectations and plan is if they sustain a work-related injury.  

What are the different types of injury and illness prevention programs? 

Education on risk and safety is essential for employee wellness and health. When developing a safety plan, it is key to start from the beginning of an employee’s onboarding and constantly look for ways to improve their working environment to set them up for success. Employers can work with providers to have a functional job analysis performed at their workplace. Having a trained physical therapist perform this analysis would provide great insight to the employer about the environment and the culture of their employees. Injury prevention, early intervention, ergonomics, drive safety awareness, risk prevention education, and on-site programs are a few different services a trained provider can offer to promote health at the workplace. Work safe rounds are a great way to interact with employees and see them in action to ensure safety is a top priority during work shifts. Creating a culture of health and safety will aid in establishing trust and improve employee morale.  

What is the best way to match the right person to the right job? 

Employee turnover rate can be a costly expense for the employer. One solution to help mitigate this expense is to offer pre/post-offer employment testing for new hires. A pre/post-offer employment test can help employers identify if the job candidate is able to perform the essential demands of certain jobs. Proper screens are done by a trained therapist, and the job would be contingent upon passing the functional test based off the essential job demands and skills of the job being offered. This will assist the employer by ensuring they are hiring the right candidate for the job and reducing the risk of potential injuries and additional workers’ compensation claims.  

Like a pre/post-offer employment test, if an employee sustains a work-related injury, an employer can recommend the injured worker have a fit-for-duty test prior to returning to their job. A fit-for-duty test is a return-to-work functional evaluation for employees who have been out of work, typically two weeks or another specific timeframe defined by employer, due to the injury. This would be performed by a PT/OT and would include a comprehensive physical and musculoskeletal exam to ensure the employee is ready to return to work at the required physical demand level and presents with no issues in meeting the job demands.  

During an employee’s onboarding, what types of services could improve their injury prevention knowledge? 

After you pass your pre/post-offer employment test and are ready to begin work it is important to understand your job description and your day-to-day tasks. Work conditioning is a program some employers may offer to ensure their employee is building and maintaining the level of strength, flexibility, power, endurance, and stamina to perform their job duties safely. Therapists can assist with this process as the employee is getting ready to start their new job. If your job requires you to drive, driver safety awareness may be included in your onboarding training. It is a good idea to see your work area and ensure you understand how to use equipment, machines, and all gear required for your job demands.

A certified ergonomist could assist with education and job adaptions for workstation fitting, postural tolerances, sit-stand breaks, ergo breaks, strengthening, stretching exercises, and body mechanics to reduce stress and muscle fatigue. Therapists can assist with proper body mechanics, positioning, and lifting techniques to reduce the risk of injury. When an employee feels good, they will perform at their best improving their productivity, morale, and overall health. Injury prevention programs, promoting a good safety plan, and providing education could reduce the average employee’s time away from work and improve the overall recovery process.  

What are the benefits of having onsite early intervention? 

Depending on your state’s laws, a Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapists, or Athletic Trainer could lead exercise wellness programs which could include general or work-specific stretches. This will help the employee prepare their body to accept stress and strain in a healthy manner. The program could include flexibility exercises, strengthening, cardiovascular activities and warm-up and cool-down periods.

An employer could choose to have an on-site provider as well to triage OSHA non-recordable care incidences. A non-recordable incident occurs in the workplace and does not involve injury, death, loss of consciousness, absence of days from work, change in work status, or illness that requires medical treatment beyond first aid. Having a licensed professional on-site is beneficial for employees as it eliminates the need for an employee to drive to/from work and improves the likelihood of them receiving medical attention. On-site offerings can include ergonomics, short exercise programs, safety training, workstation assessment, education, and minimizing hazards to reduce the chance of injury.  

Ivy Rehab Can Help

The Ivy Rehab Network specializes in treating patients with work-related injuries. We understand this process can be overwhelming. Our goal is to expedite the rehabilitation process without compromising the quality of care. While working to treat the injury, we offer personal, one-on-one care based on the essential job demands that will allow the employee to return to work safely and promptly.  

We have a sophisticated outcomes database that incorporates both clinical and stay-at-work outcomes to ensure the highest level of clinical care. Our Workers’ Compensation team offers centralized scheduling & authorization to ensure injured employees’ evaluations are scheduled within 48 hours of the referral. To schedule an appointment, call 1-877-5-Ivy-Comp (1-877-548-9266) or request an appointment online by visiting our website.  


Article By: Ashley Catapano, DPT, CCI, CEAS I, II, CIRS, FCE Evaluator  

Director of Workers Compensation & Industrial Services  

Ashley began her Physical Therapy career 16 years ago. Ashley’s clinical passion involves treating patients who have sustained work-related injuries. She has extensive training in Workers’ Compensation, Industrial Services, Employer Wellness, Injury Prevention, and Occupational Medicine population. She believes in providing outcomes-orientated solutions for musculoskeletal care and pain management. She places a high emphasis on safe, effective return to work for injured workers. She currently specializes in Workers’ Compensation and Industrial Services. She serves as Ivy Rehab’s Director of Workers Compensation & Industrial Services.  

The medical information contained herein is provided as an information resource only, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultation with healthcare professionals. This information is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-provider relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or medical advice. Please consult with your healthcare provider before making any healthcare decisions or for guidance about a specific medical condition. If you think you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. IvyRehab Network, Inc. disclaims any and all responsibility, and shall have no liability, for any damages, loss, injury or liability whatsoever suffered as a result of your reliance on the information contained herein.

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