According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, soft tissue injuries including sprains and strains, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, hernia, and tendonitis were responsible for 31.6% of lost work days in 2004. What can mangers do about these injuries and losses? Some managers accept these injuries as a cost of doing business. Other mangers wonder if there is a magic bullet that will prevent these injuries. And then there are the managers who ask the right questions and take practical steps to reduce soft tissue pain, injury and losses. The goal of this session is to provide an overview of the questions that can lead to a clearer understanding of the nature, causes and prevention of soft tissue injuries… in your organization.

The questions

Here are five key questions that help occupational safety and health leaders to plan and implement effective prevention and response practices:

  • What is the scope of the problem?

  • What are the causes of the problem?

  • What technologies are available to prevent injury and reduce losses?

  • What is the current state of the problem in my organization?

  • How can I make the most valuable impact on soft tissue injuries over the next two years?

These questions may initially sound too generic and broad to be useful. However, this session will show how these questions can lead to well focused and results-oriented soft tissue injury prevention and response initiatives.

What is the scope of the problem?

This considers soft tissue injuries from the perspective of occupational safety and health leadership. How a leader views a problem greatly influences the kind and quality of solutions that are developed. When a leader asks "What is the scope of the problem?" it is useful to consider data from the following programmatic sources:

  • Injury reports and statistics.

  • Medical management.

  • Claims management.

  • Ergonomic risk factor analysis.

  • Wellness and fitness promotion.

  • Economic and human resources context

Injury reports and statistics

The reporting and statistics associated with soft tissue injuries often divides into two realms. Many safety and health professionals view the problem in terms of the number of recordable injuries. Other professionals are more focused on measures of the severity and losses associated with soft tissue injuries. The effectiveness in addressing the soft tissue pain and injury problem is often the result of what measures executive management is using to judge the performance of the Occupational Safety program and staff.

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