Slow and Steady: The Proper Steps to Return to Work After An Injury

Injuries mean time away from work. Time away from work means inactivity.

 

Workers endure a wide range of job-related injuries. Sometimes absenteeism occurs after a freak accident, other times a worker may develop an injury over the long term. In the case of the latter, a worker will not only need time away from work to treat the injury but may need time away from work to discover the true source of their injury.

 

When you are dealing with common pain problems, such as musculoskeletal disorders, one person's back pain could be a weekend lying flat while another employee might spend months in pain only to end up needing surgery to recover. In either case, it’s not just workflow that suffers from that absence. Our bodies need constant maintenance and conditioning, and time away from work sends our bodies into a state of un-conditioning - the process of adapting to inactivity. The biggest problem with deconditioning is that it makes a worker all the more vulnerable to additional affliction or reinjury.

 

Physical therapy is intended to help an impaired worker move properly to avoid creating additional strain or pain, but employers might want to consider adding it as part of an Occupational Health & Wellness Program to assist employees with regaining strength when returning to the repetitive motions related to their job role.

 

Any injury will require a once active worker to remain sedentary as they allow their body to recover. While one body part is being given rest, others start to lose strength.

 

Endurance - once we get out of the routine of physical activity, our endurance begins to wane. A new sedentary lifestyle means less oxygen is pumping. As a result, employees will tire more quickly, experience muscle fatigue and feel sore after performing repetitive motions once performed with ease.

 

“After three months, as much as half your aerobic conditioning may be lost.” - WeBeFit.com

 

Strength - Our bodies lose muscle strength each day when not being used. Employees will feel weaker and stiff once returning to work. Certain injuries, especially as it relates to nerve damage, can experience additional weakness or a numbness that can be dangerous if not properly reacclimated to the daily work conditions.

 

“Muscle strength can decrease by 50 percent in just three weeks” -Allina Health

 

Emotional Strain -  Even though un-conditioning refers to the physical consequences of an injury, there is always an emotional component that is just as affected. When an employee struggles to perform duties they previously did with great skill, the employee can become discouraged.

 

“Lost wages, an inability to work, and struggling with fall injuries can lead to anxiety, depression, and withdrawal from others.” Market Business News

 

As an employer, help your employees return to work with confidence with an occupational health and wellness program. This will help you determine if an employee is returning to work prematurely and before they are fully ready to perform the duties required. It will also protect them (and you) from reinjury that leads to more missed days. Occupational Health Programs encourage safety through the healing processes and monitors for signs of vulnerability.

 

Occupational Health & Wellness Programs

  • Prevents Injury
  • Prolongs Health
  • Protects Profits

 

Workplace Safety Screenings can help you get started.

 

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