Injury Prevention: Proactive Ways to Support Worker

Injury Prevention: Proactive Ways to Support Worker Wellness

Ensuring new hires can perform essential functions is key to keeping them safe, yet a high percentage of work-related injuries occur during the first year of employment. Learn what employers can do to avoid this issue.
Amber Walton
Amber Walton, Head of Product Development, Health Services, The Hartford
Dr. Mark Williams
Dr. Mark Williams, Medical Director, The Hartford
Training new employees and bringing them up to speed takes time. When hiring new employees, that time is part of the cost of doing business.
Reducing the risk of injury begins with hiring the right candidate, especially for physically demanding industries such as construction, manufacturing and transportation.
“Ensuring new hires are physically able to do the job is one of the first steps in supporting worker wellness and productivity,” says Dr. Mark Williams, medical director at The Hartford.
More than 30% of all work-related meniscal tears and more than 40% of lower back injuries happen within the first year of employment.1 That’s lost time for the worker and lost productivity for the organization.

Tools To Help Reduce Workplace Injuries

Employers should consider using a post-offer employment test to evaluate a candidate’s ability to safely perform essential job functions. Another tool to consider is a physical demand analysis (PDA), an objective measure of the physical requirements associated with a specific job that may include mobility, lifting, pushing, pulling, grasping and fine manipulation.
PDAs allow hiring managers to accurately advertise a job’s function, which helps candidates determine whether they are a good fit before applying. For example, a manufacturer needed workers to run specific machinery from a seated position that required a certain amount of weight for activation. But that requirement wasn’t in the job description. As a result, several applicants with a slight build who were hired for the job had to be placed in other positions post-hire.
PDAs can also:
  • Allow medical providers to better plan treatment and early return-to-work possibilities when they understand job demands; or
  • Help determine appropriate accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Both the post-offer employment test and PDA are foundational building blocks in recruiting and hiring programs that can be developed by trained professionals, such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, risk engineers and ergonomists,” says Amber Walton, head of product development for health services at The Hartford. Disability benefits carriers may also offer health prevention services, including post-offer employment tests and PDAs.
Employers should also consider using a PDA when an employee is returning to work after an injury or illness to help avoid reinjury and keep the workplace safe for co-workers. Employers should always consult legal counsel for appropriate guidance on written policies and protocols for compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations.

Resources To Help Employers Fine-tune Job Requirements

Employers can find resources through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) y la U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Occupational Requirements Survey. The DOL survey gives basic descriptions of a variety of physical demands that focus on job requirements rather than the physical capabilities of the workers. The descriptions include cognitive needs and communication skills. Some call center employees, for example, must be able to handle highly emotional situations that make mental resiliency essential.
It may seem like there are a lot of tests for new hires before they even step through the door. But the goal is worker wellness and safety. And that can speak volumes when it comes to morale. “When employers invest time and tools in injury prevention and training programs, workers hear loud and clear that their safety matters,” says Walton.
1 The Hartford’s proprietary data based on company analysis of 2020 short-term disability and workers’ compensation claim data, excluding pregnancy and COVID-19 claims.
La información proporcionada en estos materiales brinda información general y de asesoría. It shall not be considered legal advice. The Hartford does not warrant that the implementation of any view or recommendation contained herein will: (i) result in the elimination of any unsafe conditions at your business locations or with respect to your business operations; or (ii) be an appropriate legal or business practice. The Hartford assumes no responsibility for the control or correction of hazards or legal compliance with respect to your business practices, and the views and recommendations contained herein shall not constitute our undertaking, on your behalf or for the benefit of others, to determine or warrant that your business premises, locations or operations are safe or healthful, or are in compliance with any law, rule or regulation. Readers seeking to resolve specific safety, legal or business issues or concerns related to the information provided in these materials should consult their safety consultant, attorney or business advisors. All information and representations contained herein are as of April 2024.
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