Work-related injuries can be caused by obvious accidents, such as slips, trips and falls, but more often they're caused by overuse of various body parts. Whatever the cause, identifying and controlling the risks can reduce these injuries.
Chartered Physiotherapists working in Occupational Health (OH) have specialist knowledge in the field of work-related injury management. A Chartered Physiotherapist is an integral member of a team dealing with prevention and treatment of work-related musculoskeletal disorders and the evaluation of an individual’s capacity to work at a given job. Chartered Physiotherapists can also assist companies to comply with Health and Safety legislation particularly regarding Manual Handling regulations and Visual Display Unit regulations.
Common work-related problems are:
- Back and neck pain.
- Work-related upper limb disorders (WRULD) including repetitive strain injury (RSI) and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Manual handling injuries particularly back injuries in the industrial and healthcare sector
- Industrial or farming accidents.
- Hand injuries.
- Problems arising from workstation design or incorrect use of equipment.
Your consultation may be on-site at the workplace or off-site in the physiotherapy clinic and can include a detailed assessment of:
- The pain and symptoms.
- Mechanism of the injury.
- Predisposing factors - ergonomic design of the workplace, posture, use of equipment.
Specific treatment of the injury/problem could include the following:
- Therapeutic Exercise - stretching, strengthening, correction of muscle imbalance, postural correction.
- Manual Techniques - joint mobilisation and manipulation, restoration of normal tissue mobility.
- Electrotherapy - ultrasound, interferential and laser aid the recovery of injured tissues. T.E.N.S is used in treating chronic pain.
- Ice or heat application.
- Use of back supports, splints, supportive taping and other supports.
- An explanation of the nature of the problem.
- Advice with respect to prevention of re-injury or recurrence of the problem in the context of the job/task.
- Assessment of the individual’s ability to return to a certain type of work.
- Advice on safe and correct use of equipment as necessary.
- An exercise programme specific to the individual and their workload to avoid or reduce chronic disability.
Specific services available are:
- Pre-employment screening to ensure that the physical capabilities of the individual match the specific physical requirements of the job. This is with a view to safe placement of an individual within a variety of work environments.
- Ergonomic Workplace Evaluation to establish areas requiring modification and analyse potential areas of risk.
- Occupational Health and Safety training - manual handling training and awareness seminars, workstation ergonomics seminars.
- Rehabilitation and work-conditioning to facilitate safe return to the work environment.
All of these services can help both the employer and the individual minimise the risk of work-related problems.
No matter what the nature of the work, Chartered Physiotherapists are qualified to assess an individual’s physical activity within the context of their job, with a view to providing expert treatment and prevention of problems. They acknowledge that this is a specialist area and have many members who work exclusively or have a special interest in this field.
Top tips to stay healthy at work
• Interrupt sitting frequently with natural work and standing breaks.
• Take a walk at lunchtime…. encourage your colleagues to join you!
• Consider standing or walking meetings.
• Use the stairs instead of the lift for one or two floors, one flight is better than none.
• Visit a colleague rather than sending an email.
Useful Links and Resources:
ISCP Leaflet: Working Well in the Office
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