Workplace MSD prevention program


We are orthopedic workplace physical therapists... 
       .... specializing in workplace MSD control.

NO ONE is more heavily educated than PTs on Musculo-Skeletal function, injury, disease, recovery, and prevention.    We spend every day teaching injured workers how to recover from MSD and keep it from coming back.  

You spend lots of money paying us to treat your MSD-injured employees in our clinics.  
We could, however, use our same methods to TEACH all your employees how to avoid MSD.
We can show you various tactics that can readily prevent workplace MSD.

You can save LOTS of money and hassles by hiring us to show you how to reduce MSD costs.

WE HAVE ANSWERS... and success is not that difficult, as we have seen.

We have developed a structured MSD prevention program... that works !
   ..... (ongoing since 1982, at hundreds of workplaces)

STEP ONE... MSD Work Risk Analysis... to identify the various MSD risk factors at your workplace... then propose a range tactics to eliminate them.    

This is much more than an “ergonomics” evaluation, because ergonomics by itself is not all that effective and overlooks many other critical issues.   We address ergonomics, plus other alternatives where ergonomics is not practical or appropriate to the issues.   

We then go further to address workplace polices and politics that often complicate claims and costs.  We also address how to properly respond to an MSD claim to assure best outcomes at lowest costs.

STEP TWO... management seminar on reducing MSD claims and costs, teaching everyone in leadership a position their critical roles in controlling MSD... prevention, ergonomics, injury response, MSD cost control, managing workplace politics-policies-attitudes.   

How to make your MSD prevention program (No-Lost-Time) happen effectively and efficiently with minimal disruption and maximum outcomes.  

STEP THREE... The heart of our program... Employee WorkSmart training on how to take care of the working-aging body, how to avoid work pain problems, personal ergonomics skills and self-care motivation.  Two-hour employee training sessions... first hour on Neck-Arm MSD avoidance... second hour on Low Back MSD avoidance.  The No-Lost-Time MSD School

          ...... how we have changed ergonomics & MSD prevention

1.  ERGONOMICS ??   well, maybe not ?    We must go BEYOND ergonomics !

Ergonomics (identify and correct faulty work design), yes, ...BUT... not all MSDs are caused by faulty job design!   And not all ergonomics problems can be fixed.  We often must consider “alternatives” to ergonomics.   We must address worker behaviors, modify exposure times...go beyond ergonomics!  Task rotation, sit-stand option, arm support, posture habit control, body mechanics, self-care tactics.    Motivate workers to better use and care for the working (aging!) body.

2.  One secret weapon... MSD as a  POSTURE  &  BLOOD SUPPLY  issue !

Sustained Posture vs. Repetitive Motion...    
MSD is often not caused by the friction of repetitive motion.   
MSD is often the result of sustained posture reducing blood supply to working tissues.

MSD is often the result of reduced blood supply to working tissues due to sustained muscle contraction, sustained tendon tension, and sustained joint compression during sustained postures (prolonged sitting, constant standing, sustained bending, sustained reach, sustained grip-pinch).  
This sustained loading blocks circulation, causing accumulation of irritating wastes products, leading to inflammation (tendinitis).  MSD is an impaired blood supply issue !  
Effective prevention is based on restoring blood supply during work.   THIS is the key to prevention.

This can be done several ways:  ergonomics changes, posture variety (sit-stand), job rotation, supporting arms on work surface, even occasional micro-stretches (yes, these DO work, if done right)

3.  Posture is often a more critical risk than is repetitive motion.

Even perfect posture is bad for you!... if it is prolonged-sustained-unchanging.   
The key to posture MSD risk reduction is posture variety...  switch between computer mouse and a track ball every few hours; change chair adjustments frequently; switch between sitting and standing; change keyboard tilt often.   

4.  Work task variety  

Frequently switching between tasks or work techniques; job task rotations; switching between sitting and standing; posture and movement variety all greatly reduce MSD risks.  This variety spreads work loads so that no one structure is loaded excessively.  More tissue share workloads over shorter time periods.  Allows less demand and more recovery throughout work period, for reduced fatigue

5.  Upper extremity MSD as a NECK problem!  

Most upper extremity MSDs (tendinitis, carpal tunnel, et al) have some neck inputs.   Neck stress is often an underlying source of many upper extremity MSD.  Neck posture work can cause muscles on the sides of the neck to tighten.  Most blood vessels feeding the working muscles, tendons and joints of the arm-hand pass through these muscles.   These muscles get tight with prolonged sitting or standing or slouching, increasing tendinitis risks down the arm.  This is ‘Thoracic Outlet Compression’.

These neck muscle can also squeeze nerves passing through the neck on their way to the Carpal Tunnel.  These nerve then swell from the neck to the wrist, causing a “double crush” that leads to Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Correcting neck stresses-posture-flexibility becomes essential to preventing upper extremity MSD.  This is usually NOT difficult to achieve.

6.  MICRO-STRETCHING...  if done RIGHT, this really DOES work !!

Workplace stretching was controversial.  But critical questions are resolved!  New studies confirm.
Stretching works... IF, IF critical criteria are met.  Stretches must be selected to fit specific work risks.  Employees must be professionally trained and checked by a physical therapist, instructed by the PT on WHY and HOW.  Once employees understand WHY, they will comply.

Micro-Stretching is a set of ten-second stretches to a few key muscle-tendon units.   This relaxes tissue compression to restore blood supply.  This reverses the accumulation of metabolic waste chemicals, preventing MSD.  A typical micro-stretch routine takes less than 2 minutes.

But Micro-Stretching must be set up properly to work.   The correct stretches must be selected; workers must be professionally instructed in a manner that actually motivates their compliance; managers and supervisors must be trained to commit to making this actually happen.    
And...Surprise!.. our Micro-Stretching program takes only 2 minutes !


How to minimize costs and lost days from MSD injuries; proper day-one response to claim; demand effective treatment; good restricted duty strategies; effective recovery & return to work.  
Many workplaces can better manage their MSD claims to the great benefit of the employee and employer...  strategies that work!  These topics are discussed ONLY at manager-supervisors training

Our approach is a bit different from traditional ergonomics-based prevention programs.

AND... all our tactics are the most up-to-date, current, cutting edge methods... all based on extensive research evidence (see our evidence page with 250 references).

Our program WORKS !!         Check out our TRACK RECORD.

Lauren has evolved his MSD Prevention programs over the past 25 years. This is a list of outcomes from workplaces who have implemented various versions of Lauren's programs.
ELECTRONICS G, Maine: 757 lost days year before program; 9 days year after program, 98% reduction 
ELECTRONICS G, NH: Year before program 67 lost days to MSD. After program 28 lost days, 60% decrease. 
ELECTRONICS A, Maine: Before program 3 claims per month, affecting 30% of workers. 
.......After program 30 months of no claims. Productivity increased from 85% of standard to 102% of standard.
ELECTRONICS E, Maine: Year before program 590 MSD lost days. Year after 75 lost days, a 89% decrease.
ELECTRONICS K, NH: 616 lost days year before program; 32 lost days year after program; 95% decrease.
ELECTRONICS R, Michigan; a 96% decrease in lost time after our programs.
ELECTRONICS H, Tennessee: 247 lost days for CTD before program; 20 year after 92% reduction. 
...........Also 65% decrease in lost time MSD incident rate. Productivity improved; valuable workplace cultural changes.
FOOD MFG O, Georgia: Before program, 228 lost days to CTD. After program, 66 lost days, 72% decrease.
FOOD MFG B, Maine: MSD Lost days was 338 before program; 137 days after program. Lost time claims down 48% 
.........Lost days down 60%. Reportables reduced 67%. Annual review classes led to lost time reduced 75%.
FOOD MFG V, Pennsylvania: Year before program 944 lost days. Year after program 272 lost days, 71% decrease. 
FOOD MFG U, Missouri: prevention program led to a 54% decrease in lost days to MSD and back injury. 
FOOD PROCESSOR T, Michigan; After 1991 program, 75% decrease in recordables for three years.
CANDY MFG W. Pennsylvania: Serious claims problems before program. 60% decrease in lost time a year later.
SHOE MFG N, Maine: Yr before program 1499 lost days. During program 392 lost days. Yr after 16 lost days.
SHOE MFG B, Maine: Had nine months of no lost time, 50% decrease for the year after program. 
SHOE MFG W, Michigan; The year after program had 90% decrease in injury severity rate.
SHOE MFG S, Maine: Had a 50% decrease in CTD claims, with an increase in productivity after program. 
SHOE MFG F, Maine: Before program 462 lost days. During program 94 lost days. After program 47 lost days. 
...Review program Two years after program = 9 lost days. 97% decrease.
SHOE MFG D, Maine: Facility M = 201 lost days before program; 24 lost days after program. 88% decrease. 
...Facility D = 1677 lost days before program; 319 year after program. 81% dreecase.
...Facility S = 298 lost days before program; 1 lost day year after program. 99% decrease.
...Company-wide = 82% decrease in lost days in year after program. Also: 9.3% increase in productivity.
FURNITURE MFG E, Vermont: After Back Program = 47% decrease in back lost days
FURNITURE MFG, Michigan: 300 employees went four years with no lost time MSD claims after program.
FURNITURE MFG T., Michigan: program led to our lowest medical costs in 25 years.
HOSPITAL S, Illinois: Claims reduced 50%; Lost time reduced 75% since program.
HOSPITAL S, Virginia: back injury costs before program $36,407; year after $3,693... a 91% decrease
HOSPITAL S, Iowa; claims down 54%; lost days down 68%; restricted duty days down 82%
WOOD PRODUCTS H, Maine: Claims down from 7 to I; restricted days down from 195 to 14, a 92% decrease.
GOVT OFFICES VA, Maine: MSD incident rate 3.0% before program; 0.3% after program. 90% decrease.
CITY PUBLIC WORKS DEPT. L, Maine: musculoskeletal injury costs reduced 80% after program
PUBLIC UTILITY B, Maine: Before program back injuries 40% of claims. After program back injury 17% of claims.
YACHT BUILDER, Michigan: Worker Comp bill was $500,000... year after program bill $50,000, a 90 % decrease
BRUSH MFG F, New Hampshire: 556 MSD lost days prior to program; 56 days after program, 91% decrease. 
AUDIOTAPE MFG O, Maine: Program led to 75% decrease in lost days to MSD. Attitudes much improved. 
PUMP MFG W, Maine: Had serious MSD and back claims problem. After program no claims for eight months. 
LEATHER TANNERY P, Maine: MSD costs in worse dept. were $ 330,000. After program $ 9,000 a 97 % decrease
TEXTILE MFG G, Maine: Year before program 269 lost days to back injury. Year after 66 days, 75% reduction.
PAPER MFG S, Kansas: Year before program 191 lost days. Year after 45 lost days, a 73% decrease.
AMMUNITION MFG, Kansas: MSD illness rate 8.35 before program. After program rate 2.32, a 72% decrease
CONSTRUCTION B, Maine: Year before program back lost days = 468. Year after = 73 days 85% decrease.
MEDICAL SUPPLY S, Maine: Worker Compensation costs for MSD reduced 91% after program.
GOVT OFFICES VA, Maine: CTD incident rate 3.0% before program; 0.3% after program..
CITY PUBLIC WORKS DEPT. L, Maine: musculoskeletal injury costs reduced 80% after program
FOUNDRY C, Michigan; 1992 Worker Comp costs $382,000 after program, 1993 costs $41,000, an 89% decrease.
HYDRAULICS MFG, Iowa; Lost days down for 142 to 71, 50% reduction; Restricted days from 903 to 16, 
PACKAGING PRINTING, Illinois: packaging printing plant of 275 employees saw a 75% reduction in claims. 
PHARMACEUTICAL CORP HQ, NY; 54 claims per 1000 before program; 2 claims per 1000 after. 94% decrease
MEDICAL PRODUCTS MFG, ME, 2004 program, claims did not decline, but lost work days went from 130 to zero, plus Comp costs from MSD went from $240,000 to $23,000 the following year
PLUMBING CONSTRUCTION, ME: 2004 program, claims down 56%; lost days down 97%
SAWMILL, ME: 2004 program; claims down 71%, restricted duty down 85%

HOW  TO  START ?  ...(keeping it simple & low-cost)
     Try a small PILOT PROJECT:

Have us do a small trial program in one small (but challenging-difficult) work area.
Observe how it goes, and ask the employees what they think of it.
Brief, inexpensive, easy, manageable, enlightening.
Let this pilot project guide you.