Injury Prevention Programs Beyond "Fit for Duty"

July 07, 2016 | Danielle Browne

Fit for Duty is often interchanged with pre-shift warm-ups (or "stretch and flex" programs) when discussing soft-tissue injury prevention programs. Both Fit for Duty and pre-shift warm-up programs have enormous value, if implemented properly, and both can be a great addition to any safety program.

But what’s the difference?

Fit for Duty vs. Pre-Shift Warm-Ups

Fit for Duty is done under the watchful eye of a medical professional.

Let’s start with Fit for Duty. Fit for Duty is a set of job-specific tests used to determine a worker’s readiness to perform a specific job function. It can include prescribed exercises designed to ensure a worker passes a job-specific Fit for Duty exam. A Fit for Duty program can also be used to help an injured worker return to work or to prepare an existing worker for a new position.

Fit for Duty tests or conditioning programs are usually performed by a medical professional in a clinic and are limited in duration.

Unlike Fit for Duty programs, pre-shift warm-ups are performed daily, at the beginning of every shift. Where Fit for Duty is more of a work-readiness program, a pre-shift warm-up is just that, a warm-up. Warm-ups increase the body’s temperature and help move joints through a full range of motion, preparing the body for the physical activity ahead.

Safety Checks and Balances

A pre-shift warm-up is also great for awareness. Vivecorp’s Industrial Athlete Training Program cues workers to listen to their bodies during the warm-up and report to supervisors if something doesn’t feel right. This type of information, if used correctly, is invaluable and can save your company lost time and money reporting and investigating a recordable injury.

If an employee is noticing discomfort, your safety team should be asking the following questions. Is the job being performed correctly? Are other workers performing this job experiencing similar issues? Are there engineering or ergonomic controls to mitigate the problem? Is the employee stretching periodically throughout the day?

Long Term Benefits

Although a Fit for Duty program can determine if an employee can perform his or her job at that moment in time, it doesn’t guarantee the employee will stay that way. A daily, pre-shift stretching program is something employers can use to communicate to employees the importance of staying fit and healthy for their jobs, not only for their safety but also for the safety of their co-workers.

While Fit for Duty programs are often completed only after an injury has occurred, a pre-shift stretching program is a proactive way to prevent musculoskeletal disorders. Vivecorp has created hundreds of customized, dynamic pre-shift client warm-ups. Contact us to learn more about how Vivecorp can help your employees.

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