RiteTemp: A New Modality for Treating Occupational Injuries

Occupational injuries are one of the most important and preventable health problems that occur daily throughout the world. While preventable, they are a human capital issue to business and a disabling socio-economic factor to the injured worker. The concurrent impact reaches far beyond lost time, missed schedules and production delays. In years past, scores of today’s aging workforce labored in non-ergonomic jobs, never to be inoculated to improved ergonomics as part of today’s assessment of human capital costs. Improper height of work stations, non-electric hand tools and warehouse staging areas account for a multitude of simply avoidable musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) the aging workforce faces today.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Editor’s Desk 2005 Report, of the 1.3 million sprains and strains reported, often involving the back, 43 percent of these injuries required more than one day recuperation from work beyond the day of the incident. When you combine the simple sprain and soft tissue damage with bruises and contusions, lacerations and fractures, approximately two thirds of all these cases resulted in cumulative lost work time, not counting the day of the injury.

The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) of the Journal of American Medical Association’s occupational supplement records and reports non-fatal work related injuries from U.S. hospital Emergency Rooms across the U.S. NEISS uses a stratified sampling of 67-70 hospitals’ emergency rooms that monitor injury trends 24/7 to aid in prevention activities correlating monthly reviews out of 5300 hospitals to separate work related and non-work related injuries.

The U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) December 4, 2009 Report, where lower trunk (back) injuries being the most prominent, discloses a common denominator among other reporting agencies with like data – BLS, OSHA, CDC, to name a few. The underlying factor stated that resulted in the highest number of absences that directly correlates to the list below was overuse/overexertion (hyperextension) of muscles due to: (1) heavy lifting, (2) pushing, pulling or carrying heavy objects; (3) falls on the same level, (4) bodily reaction to avoid obstacle; (5) contact with object or equipment; (6) repetitive motion (tendonitis); (7) extremity or joint stress fractures; (8) carpal tunnel syndrome; (9) complex regional pain syndrome; and (10) fall to lower level. In a 2008 BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries, of the nearly 19 million state and local government workers with reported MSD injuries, firefighters and law enforcement personnel remain the highest among all workers with a 14.8 per 100 cases. Yet, this same report reflects that these state and local government workers ranked 1.5 times higher for the same injury than that of the private sector. While these statistics reflect high human capital costs for lost work time, medical costs and their ensuing socio-economic impact on the injured, OSHA and other organizations only collects data from a small portion of the private sector establishments within the U.S. or approximately 80,000 out of 7.5 million. Therefore the data does not effectively represent the majority of business, especially small business, where enumerating the data is impossible. Even state workman’s compensation boards do not account for establishments with less than 15 employees so conclusions should not be drawn on this data alone.

The small business or self-employed injury affects the economic and social impact to a much greater extent where loss of time translates to loss of income for the self-employed. Numerous self-employed individuals interviewed stated they couldn’t justify the cost-benefit ratio of workman’s compensation insurance and choose to work ‘at risk’. Drawing a parallel with a JAMA 2007 injury report and an Indiana Workers’ Compensation report for that year, back injury accounted for more than 53% of all work-related injuries exacerbated by improper or repetitive motion-bending, twisting or lifting.

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