Stretch Flex Programs: Effects on the Reduction of Musculoskeletal Disorders & Injuries
- Sang D. Choi (University of Wisconsin - Whitewater) | Sathy Rajendran (Central Washington University) | Kwangseog Ahn (University of Wisconsin - Whitewater)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- May 2017
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 38 - 43
- 2017. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 31 since 2007
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- This study evaluated the impact of stretch-and-flex (SF) programs on construction worker safety and health by comparing construction firms’ safety performance/injury rates before and after the implementation of workplace SF programs.
- Sprain/strain was the most frequent musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) injury type followed by rotator cuff injury, back injury, tendinitis, epicondylitis and carpal tunnel syndrome due to overexertion, motion/position, tools/ machinery, lifting improperly and wear/tear.
- The authors analyzed information on pre- and post-SF program implementation and safety performance (i.e., number of MSDs, OSHA-recordable injuries, lost-workday injuries).
- Data suggest that work-related MSDs and injuries can be reduced by implementing SF programs.
Workers in construction often face occupational risk factors such as lifting heavy construction materials, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics (2016), musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) cases account for one-third of all worker injury and illness cases. Work-related MSDs (WMSDs), injuries of the muscles, tendons, joints and nerves caused or aggravated by work, are among the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time. WMSDs can include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, epicondylitis, sprains/strains and back injuries (OSHA, 2016).
The physically demanding nature of construction work helps explain why musculoskeletal injuries and disorders are the most common type of injury resulting in days away from work in construction. Companies that have a high prevalence of WMSDs could benefit from a comprehensive ergonomics program that includes engineering and administrative controls (Choi & Woletz, 2010; DaCosta & Vieira, 2008; Graham, 2013; Hess & Hecker, 2003). Engineering controls typically involve redesigning a workstation or a process to reduce the ergonomic risk factors. A workplace stretching program is an example of an administrative control.
Stretching programs are intended to reduce the incidence and/or severity of injuries by increasing flexibility. Flexibility is commonly defined as the range of movement possible around a specific joint or series of joints; this definition is applied in most clinical studies. It is commonly believed that workers who are less flexible are more likely to have musculoskeletal pain and resultant injury. The presumption is that for individuals with short or tight muscles, stretching exercises increase flexibility by elongating tissues to a more physiologically normal range, promoting optimal function and reducing the risk of musculoskeletal injury (Hess & Hecker, 2003).
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