Work hardening is a phrase used in a lot of industries that utilise manual labour to describe the process of workers getting used to the physical demands of their role. When the work hardening process is managed well, workers will be better able to adapt to their work environment.
Work Hardening should aim to gradually increase the worker’s physical capabilities and tolerance to load in order to meet the requirements of their tasks. This will help to offset the strain of occupational overuse injuries on workers’ soft tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments). 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 program, the quicker they will reach the physical 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 take into consideration the physical demands of each job, the current physical capabilities of the worker, 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 workers with strengthening exercises which will allow them to reach the physical requirements of their job. It also gives your provider a chance to catch any early signs of injury and manage this appropriately.
Speak to your Workplace Health Provider or schedule a 30 minute online discovery meeting with us and we’ll expand on the benefits of work hardening, share some insights from our recent pilot program, and also answer any questions you might have about how work hardening can enhance your workplace injury prevention and treatment strategy.
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