Continuity Plan for the Wellbeing of Our Blue-Collar Workforce,
by Brad Roblin
Dear business owners, executive teams, union leaders and public officials:
There is a very real possibility that many "non-essential" businesses will be closing their doors for several weeks or even longer. Particularly, I think about the blue-collar workers with physically demanding jobs, who do not have the option of "working remotely." When I play out the scenario of these employees not working for an extended period of time and then suddenly returning to their regular duties, a significant increase in injury rates seems like a virtual certainty. Consider the fact that muscles begin to atrophy (weaken and lose mass) in as little as 72 hours when they are underused or neglected. Additionally, movement patterns and ranges of motion that employees develop over time will diminish. When these employees finally do return to their normal schedules, they are going to be extremely deconditioned. Let's face it, there are many workers whose only physical activity comes from doing their job. Even the workers who do exercise are going to lose their job-specific conditioning.
History has shown that our country and economy always bounce back. So, what is going to happen when this all ends and we have anxious employers, eager to make up for losses, asking their deconditioned workforce to go faster and do more? The figure below, which was distributed by NCCI (National Council on Compensation Insurance), may provide some answers about what to expect.
Workers Compensation claim frequency only rose one time in a 20-year period, spanning from 1998-2018. That was in 2010 when we were finally climbing out of the recession and companies were ramping up operations. An increase in hiring, overtime hours, and accelerated work pace most certainly had an impact, along with workers being physically unprepared to safely do their job after a long layoff.
So, what can be done to help maintain the physical and emotional resiliency of our blue-collar workforce as well as minimize any additional financial drain and operational breakdown caused by an increase in Workers Compensation claim frequency? At Pro Workforce Performance, we have a low-cost solution that will allow companies whose operations will either be halted or greatly reduced to remotely share resources with their employees, helping to keep them healthy and fit for duty, regardless of their employment status. We have developed these resources by working closely with clients in the distribution, manufacturing, construction, and other blue-collar industries to design customized activation exercises that simulate key job tasks. This allows for job-specific muscles and ranges of motion to be maintained and strengthened so that when employees eventually return to work, they are able to avoid straining vulnerable joints and tendons. Pro Workforce Performance has also developed a mobile application that allows us to engage employees remotely with job-specific exercise content, send daily exercise reminders, track compliance, and produce management reports to monitor the effectiveness of the program. All of our programs also include additional mindfulness and breathing exercises to help reduce stress and anxiety. With all of the fear and uncertainty that is circulating, there has never been a more important time than right now to implement these practices.
Whether or not our programs and platform are of interest to you and the organization you run, I strongly encourage everyone to look at the facts of what has already started to transpire and consider the hidden realities of what is next. A lot has already been lost and there is inevitably more to come. Ironically, there is one very precious thing that almost all of us will gain as our everyday lives come to a halt: time. Rather than dwelling on everything that we can't do, let's shift our focus and reconnect with the simple pleasures that we often neglect in our busy lives. It is our obligation as business owners and leaders to help our employees in times of need and guide them to resources and tools they may not be aware of. At the very least, let's encourage them to move and breathe.
Wishing you, your family and friends good health and safety. Feel free to reach out with any questions or feedback.
Founder/Owner Pro Workforce Performance
NOTE: The information provided herein is intended for educational and informational purposes only and it represents only the views of the authors. It is not a recommendation that a particular course of action be followed. Burand & Associates, LLC and Chris Burand assume, and will have, no responsibility for liability or damage which may result from the use of any of this information.