Employees with “Back Smarts” Just Might Move You to the Head of the Class

[originally published in GKCCC Newsletter, April 2009 and then in the July 2009 KCN]

backpain-worker1Described as the “nemesis of medicine and the albatross of industry,”  it’s no wonder that countries across our globe seek to tame the ugly woes of good ol’ fashioned back pain.  Statisticians tell us that 80% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their lives and of this about 35% will be work-related.

Recently, I ran across a very interesting research article published about a decade ago from “Down Under” in the Australasian Chiropractic and Osteopathy journal that investigated an intriguing way of facing this so called “albatross” —an albatross that costs them an estimated $8 billion annually in disability and lost production.

A chiropractor was brought into a large mailing house company in Sydney, Australia to tour the workplace and observe the employees as they went about their daily activities.  From his observations, he customized a spinal care and injury prevention class.  The class, among other things, detailed spinal anatomy, causes of back pain, basic spinal biomechanics, correct lifting procedures, effective exercises, ergonomic analysis, and treatments for back problems.

Three groups of workers were formed:  One group attended the spinal care class, another was given a set of daily warm-up stretches to perform, and the final group went about their work as usual with no form of intervention whatsoever.
The results: the average cost of injuries went from $451 in the six months prior to the taking of the spinal care class, down to $194 in the first three months following the training, and then rose a bit to $269 six months after the class. In comparison, the corresponding “stretching group” figures were $396, $409 and $382, respectively.  And the “work as usual group” figures were $420, $472, and $423, respectively.

In other words, the cost of reported back injuries decreased by 57% in the first three months in the group that took the class when compared to it’s pre-intervention levels.  At the six month follow-up the cost of back injuries still remained 40% lower than previous levels.

Looking to improve your bottom line by reducing your L&I expenditures?  Consider encouraging your local chiropractor to arrange a customized spinal care class for your work team.  Because doing so, just might move you the head of the class.


Source used for this article:
Tuchin.  Spinal care education as a preventative strategy for occupational health & safety:  a new role for chiropractors.  Australasian Chiropractic and Osteopathy.  7(1) pp. 8-14.  March 1998.  http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2050638
Explore posts in the same categories: cost effectiveness, education, low back pain, occupational injury, Spinal Column on the Job

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