Issues in Occupational Injury Management: To Stand or To Sit?

Physioworks Health Group has been a part of the TAC Worksafe Occupational Physiotherapy initiative since it commenced in Victoria in 2007. Across our five clinics, 17 members of our physiotherapy team are now recognised as TAC/WorkSafe Occupational Physiotherapists.

When injuries do occur our team have a proven track record in rehabilitation management – assisting injured workers to get back to work – importantly communicating with all relevant stakeholders. We work & communicate with our all parties, in a tailoring an individual program to restore & rehabilitate the employee back to normal function, work & lifestyle, developing specific recommendations & strategies for a return to work program. From initial diagnosis through to management strategies & ongoing exercise regimes, Physioworks Health Group endeavour to ensure prompt recovery & to reduce the chance of recurrence of the injury for the individual and in the workplace environment.

Over the past 10+ years Physioworks Health Group have worked with a range of large scale, multinational industries and companies, as well as government agencies and departments across Victoria, providing onsite injury prevention & injury management services that provide value & tangible benefits for both the employer & employee.

A core focus in Industrial Physiotherapy is reducing injury frequency & improving workplace injury management, to increase productivity by reducing injury down time, leading to less absenteeism, thus reducing associated costs & also providing a stronger, healthier, more productive workforce.

The ergonomic set up of the workplace is a consideration when developing any Workplace Injury Preventative Maintenance Program.  What is best for your workplace and your business productivity? What is best for the health and well-being of your most valuable asset – your employees?

In 2017, to Sit or to Stand – is burning workplace environment question.

Research has shown that prolonged sitting, whether that be at a desk, driving a long haul vehicle or working on a factory production line, can present issues for back, shoulder, neck and head.

So is standing a preventive solution?

Certainly muscle movement every 20-30 minutes from a static sitting position is highly beneficial, so to stand and stretch is recommended.

But is prolonged standing, all day, every day, the answer – and better for you than sitting?

Research has shown that prolonged standing, whether that be at a desk, or on a factory production line, can equally present injury concerns for back, knees and ankles.

The simple answer is that if you are permanently static at work; whether that is sitting or standing, pain and stiffness or injury issues can occur. Movement appears the preventive key – and best practice.

In workplace environments, I will often use movement in sessions on injury prevention teaching, highlighting the impacts of sub optimal standing, sitting, correct lifting methods and impact of desk set up on the body. By encouraging the use of correct body mechanics in these group/individual sessions the aim is to ensure improved movement and power outcomes. This session will usually include:

How do we move?

  • What is Normal Movement?
    • Everyone is different; so it must be recognised that ‘normal’ movement will differ by individual
    • Research and experience indicate that we sub-consciously make adjustments to normal movement (habits) that alter our performance and can lead to ongoing pain, stiffness and disability.
  • Specific Movement for you?
    • For your Workplace
    • For your Lifestyle
  • Specific focus for each individual
    • Sit to stand
    • Sitting and Standing posture/movement
    • Bending over posture
    • Breathing techniques
    • Walking patterns and efficiency
    • Lifting Techniques
    • Sleeping posture
    • Desk – computer set up

Many employees use the techniques applied in these movement programs outside of work – in sport & everyday general life.

These type of preventive injury programs will not prevent all injuries. The nature of most businesses & the tasks of the workforce means that injuries can still occur.  However, the aim of any preventative injury program must be to educate & instill best practice techniques in employees, which will make your team ‘think correct movement first’ as a matter of course, thereby reducing injury incidence.

So to stand or to sit? I’d suggest best practice is movement – don’t be static in the same position for extended periods – MOVE IT!!

About the author: Physioworks Health Group Director and Specialist Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist Andrew Dalwood was one of the first Victorian physiotherapists to be recognised as preferred provider as a TAC/WorkSafe Occupational Physiotherapist. Please contact Andrew if you would like to discuss your workplace environment and our Industrial Physiotherapy services on 9795 0668.