Did you know that in 2014, more than one half of NPPD’s recordable injuries were strains/pulls? This means they were not the result of “accidents” such as being struck by something, walking into a stationary object, falling, or sustaining a cut or abrasion. In more technical terms these strains and pulls were musculo-skeletal injuries, and they were very likely preventable.
What can we do when so many of our incidents involve people getting hurt doing normal things like walking, bending or reaching?
The answer came the first day of a four-day class at York Operations Center for some of NPPD’s safety and wellness teammates. The whole first day was devoted to exercise, nutrition, maintaining a healthy weight and proper posture.
“What’s going on?” I thought. “Is this a wellness course? These aren’t safety and ergonomics topics. Why spend so much time on this stuff when we’re supposed to be talking about how to arrange jobs so people don’t get hurt?”
Eventually the “A-ha!” moment struck. Wellness absolutely is a safety topic. We learned that strong, flexible, well-nourished, healthy bodies are good at resisting daily strains we put on our backs, muscles and joints at work and at home. Sudden back injuries are typically not sudden at all. They are often the result of years of wear and tear, which can generally be avoided through regular strengthening, stretching and good posture. Likewise, strong, flexible limbs absorb stresses that can cause knee, elbow or hip pain in those who are not as healthy.
Wellness absolutely is a safety topic.
Now, this doesn’t mean that all of these types of problems are avoidable. If only it were that simple!
Our bodies are designed to withstand stresses and strains that normal work activities subject us to. But we have to help. Unfortunately, it’s too easy in a world of 60-inch TVs and remote controls, Lazy Boy recliners and fast food to neglect maintenance our bodies need to perform at their best. It’s a bit like not maintaining machinery and expecting it to perform as designed. And age is constantly working against our machinery, making this a bigger challenge.
Our NPPD Wellness Committee and the folks at Simply Well do a great job of telling us how we can live healthier, more productive lives. Our safety department and our leaders do a great job identifying and coaching best safety practices. Maybe our “A-ha!” moment comes when we recognize that one of the best things we can do to keep ourselves safe at home and at work is to pay attention to our own health and fitness.