What is “work hardening”?
And how can it help your workers?
Written by Elisabeth Le Ray
Work hardening is a specific, goal-oriented strength and conditioning program to prepare a worker for the physical demands of their role.
It is aimed at gradually increasing the load and demands on tissues to meet the requirements of their tasks. A work hardening program should be constructed in collaboration with your onsite injury management provider.
“As most work-related musculoskeletal disorders result from chronic exposures, prevention activities designed to eliminate acute injuries should in time also reduce the overall magnitude and severity of these conditions.”
It is optimal to get new employees to start a work hardening program as soon as practically possible. The sooner an employee starts their specific strength and conditioning program, the quicker they will reach the level required for their tasks.
If you plan to move employees to a new role, they can start their work hardening program prior to the move to start slowly building up their strength and conditioning.
A work hardening program should be tailored to the physical demands of each job, and should be carefully constructed through collaboration with your onsite injury management provider. A work hardening program will commonly take into consideration the type of work, rotations and breaks, and will include appropriate warm up advice and manual handling training.
Your onsite injury management provider will provide specific strength and conditioning exercises which will allow workers to reach the physical requirements of their job. A work hardening program will usually involve both strength exercises as well as job specific functional exercises.