Workplace injury is a serious problem throughout Australia, adversely affecting workers, employers, and the economy.
When workers are injured and unable to work or fulfill all their usual duties, it negatively affects them and their workplaces in a wide variety of ways. The worker experiences not only the pain we would all expect but also stress, anxiety, and suffering.
Continued research is being done and new developments are continuously being made in our understanding of workplace injury and what can be done to prevent its occurrence and reduce its impact once it has occurred.
Musculoskeletal injuries comprise a large proportion of all workplace injuries that occur in Australia, in fact, 60% of serious injury claims are musculoskeletal in nature. Between 2000 and 2013 alone, there was a 35% increase in the average amount of lost-time caused by musculoskeletal injuries.
The Importance of Rehabilitation
Injured workers require rehabilitation in order to work towards regaining their pre-injury abilities. Ideally, it is hoped that they will eventually be able to return to their original job and duties. There are a number of steps that need to be taken, and exercise rehabilitation plays a vital role in this. All exercise rehabilitation programs should be completed under the guidance and supervision of appropriately trained and accredited healthcare professionals, with continuous feedback provided to nominated treating doctor and other stakeholders.
Exercise can help injured workers
Exercise is not only able to help prevent injuries but aid in the rehabilitation process, making it more likely that workers are able to return to work quicker. An active exercise program can significantly assist in successful recovery, boosting the chance of returning to work more promptly.
An exercise therapy program provides not only physical benefits but should also include education and advice to empower injured workers to complete exercises independently and provide self-monitoring and management tools to facilitate a timely return to work. Cognitive behavioural principles and a biopsychosocial approach play important roles in this. It is important for all exercise programs to be properly planned and carried out under appropriate professional supervision.
When it is determined that an exercise program specifically designed to replicate job duties would be useful for a patient, a work-related activity program should be ongoing. When a work-related activity program is created, the physical requirements of the duties that the worker had in his or her job before being injured are the centre of focus. Exercises are therefore designed specifically to address the critical demands of their role.
Alongside a work-related activities program, injured workers should have a Recover at Work Plan developed and this will help to ensure work capacity reflects physical capacity. A graduated increase in work capacity will also ensure a progressive loading of their injury and minimise chances of an aggravation.
Exercise can alleviate stress and anxiety
Being injured can cause workers a high degree of stress and anxiety. General exercise and exercise programs can help to alleviate these effects. Exercise is useful because it helps to promote relaxation, thus alleviating skeletal muscle tension; encourages the production of endorphins; and provides the opportunity to release any sense of frustration.
Don’t forget about exercise in your rehabilitation plan
Exercise is an essential part of any successful rehabilitation plan. Make sure to discuss this with your doctor and other healthcare professionals overseeing the injury.
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“RACGP—Returning to Work”, https://www.racgp.org.au/afp/2013/april/returning-to-work
“Ergonomics in the Workplace—Why it Matters?” http://www.actevate.com.au/articles/ergonomics-injury-prevention-workplace-australia
“Exercise-based rehabilitation for injured workers: programme efficacy and identification of factors predicting programme completion and outcome”, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10826121
“How Exercise Reduces Stress”, http://www.anxietyaustralia.com.au/treatment-options/exercise
Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/
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