The main cause of sprains and strains is poor manual handling. Unfortunately manual handling at some stage in construction work cannot be avoided however correct handling can reduce injuries. But can sprains and strains be avoided by simply stretching before work, like many athletes and sports people do?

Some construction companies in Seattle are not taking any chances when it comes to workplace injuries especially musculoskeletal injuries that are often experienced by workers engaging in manual activities.

Although unorthodox, the approach by a Seattle Construction company seems to be working well and other construction companies may soon follow the example by also getting workers to engage in stretching exercises each morning before work.

Athletes swear by stretching as a way of increasing their flexibility and sports science has attributed the act with reducing injuries, so why not workers engaged in manual work?

Just before workers pick up tools and begin working, Sellen Construction workers stretch together in an attempt to ward off sprains, strains and soft tissue injuries. The company implemented the stretching 2 years ago and says they have seen a significant drop in the number of injuries.

With the new healthcare reforms introduced by President Obama in The USA, it is expected that other construction companies could possibly soon follow in Sellen’s footsteps.

Read this interesting post from that explains:

Even before the sun comes up, Sellen Construction workers are on the job. It’s back breaking work.

“First thing in the morning, we’re all stiff from the day before,” said worker Charlie Nahorniak.

No wonder injuries are common.

“What didn’t surprise us was the type of injuries we were having. The most were sprains and strains, soft tissue injuries. What did surprise us is that most of those were happening first thing in the morning, very early in the day,” said Frank Mandell, Sellen Project Safety Manager.

So before the first screw is tightened, the first welding torch sparks into action and the first sheets of plywood are hoisted into the air, the group spends a few minutes stretching, doing exercises with names like “tin man,” “airplane” and “ape hangers.”

Not exactly what you’d expect construction workers to be doing on the job.

“At first a lot of them thought that this was the latest fad, you know this is a little ridiculous,” said Mandell, “but it didn’t take long for them to start seeing the benefits of it, start seeing the results.”

Sellen brought in a specialist to custom-design the exercises for the type of lifting and bending their workers do.

“I had a sore back before we started the program, and it hasn’t,” said worker Allen Stoops. “It’s been good.”

“Some of the ones that were complaining about it the most were some of the ones who swear by it the hardest now,” said Mandell.


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