A Preventative-Care Solution for the Ergonomically-Challenged Workplace

The Accountable Care Act is right in, at least, one regard: Prevention saves money. There are many aspects to the Affordable Care Act and exponentially more opinions on whether it is the right direction for the United States healthcare system. Politics aside, there is one area of healthcare reform that receives little media exposure and that most cannot argue against unless one has a financial stake in the status quo. It is the adoption of a preventative-care model, as opposed to an acute-care one, in order to reduce healthcare costs.

According to HealthReform.gov, “a focus on prevention will offer our nation the opportunity to not only improve the health of Americans but also control health care spending. By concentrating on the underlying drivers of chronic disease, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helps us move from today’s sick-care system to a true “health care” system that encourages health and well-being.”

The Workplace a Microcosm of American Society
If we look at the workplace as a microcosm of American society, there is ample proof that a preventative model reduces worker compensation and healthcare costs and provides a significant return-on-investment. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that prevention programs offer employers a benefit-to-cost ratio of “$1.49 to $4.91 (median of $3.14) in benefits for every dollar spent on the program.”

The study reported on several high-profile companies and the benefits they experienced through their prevention programs:

  • Motorola experienced $3.93in cost savings for every dollar invested in their wellness program.
  • Northeast Utilities reduced lifestyle and behavioral claims by $1.4 million within 24 months of implementing their program.
  • Caterpillar has forecast $700 million in long-term savings by 2015 through their Health Balance program.
  • Johnson & Johnson reduced their average annual healthcare costs by $224.66 per employee.

To learn more about how companies can save money while improving the lives of their employees, check out Injury Free’s article Can Business Afford Not to Have an Effective Injury and Illness Program.

Every day more companies are becoming aware that a strategically-design injury and illness prevention program reduces related costs and creates a win-win relationship with employees. Health and wellness programs have been generally targeted towards improving employee health through diet, smoking cessation, and fitness programs with excellent results for both company and worker. And hazard prevention programs have drastically reduced trauma injuries over the past few decades.

But workers compensation and healthcare costs continue to rise for many companies due to the ongoing nature of musculoskeletal disorders. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), musculoskeletal disorders accounted for 28.8 percent of all non-fatal, lost-time occupational injury and illness cases in 2010, a four percent increase over the previous year. Lost-time injuries related to sprains, strains, and tears accounted for 40 percent of the total cases while back injuries resulted in 11 percent of the cases. The body parts that were reported to be most commonly injured were the back (36%), shoulder (12%), and lower extremities such as groin, knees and ankles (26%).

These injuries can cause a lifetime of pain for employees if they are not treated properly in addition to the repetitive healthcare costs for the employer. For those organizations that suffer from ergonomic problems and musculoskeletal disorders, there are multi-benefit solutions available. The Employee Maintenance Center (EMC) is designed to significantly reduce and potentially eliminate ergonomic injuries in the workplace.

Ask InjuryFree CEO, Trent Shuford, how his team helped turnaround an injury-riddled division of a Fortune 500 company into a zero-injury powerhouse.