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OnsiteWorks Case Study

Slumberland Furniture

An employee of an iWorks Health’s Employer Partner reported shoulder soreness for performing his job. iWorks Health provided onsite OSHA first aid services to prevent injury, promote health and safety and reduce recordables.

A warehouse distribution center client of iWorks Health with an established OnsiteWorks program had an employee with left shoulder soreness. The employer’s Safety Director reserved a time with the onsite therapist for evaluation. The employee, a lead material handler, was loading and unloading boxed goods and large furniture items to and from trucks using a two-wheeler or a four-wheeled cart. The veteran employee was a valued member of the team and felt that after many years of doing the same job in the same way, it had contributed to his ongoing shoulder soreness.

At the first visit, the employee reported left shoulder soreness which was not caused by a particular incident or event. The employee’s physical job demands as a merchandise handler were discussed and the employee demonstrated the technique he used for loading heavy items onto the two-wheeler and to push thru the warehouse. The therapist assessed the employee’s shoulder range of motion and strength on both sides and found within functional ranges. The therapist performed soft tissue work, applied kinesiotape and topical pain-relieving gel. The employee also received instructions for self-administered home care to continue the healing process. The employee reported improvement in his symptoms by the end of the session.

The therapist than accompanied the employee to the warehouse to observe the job task of unloading a truck with a two-wheeler. The therapist noted the employee’s technique of guiding the two-wheeler with his right hand while using his left hand to reach to the top of the oversized item to pull it onto the two-wheeler and hold it in place while moving the time throughout the warehouse. The therapist and employee discussed alternating right- and left-hand use to reach to the top of the item, and practiced the modified technique in the warehouse.

The therapist reviewed the previously administered iWorks Health’s Job Analysis for the material handler’s position which clearly delineated the physical demands for the essential functions of the job. The physical demands of constant pushing and pulling, walking, and frequent overhead reach were noted, and were discussed with the Safety Director. The Safety Director informed the therapist that another employee had complained of shoulder soreness and had presented an idea to the team for a long-handed tool to reach and pull the oversize items onto the two-wheeler. The tool reduced the overhead reach and pull for employees, allowed for use with either hand, and still allowed the item to be safely moved and guided throughout the warehouse floor. The therapist and Safety Director both agreed the tool was an ergonomic improvement that would benefit all material handlers and reduce the risk of shoulder injury.

Over the next several weeks, the therapist and Safety Director met with employees, the facilities team, and the Corporate Risk Manager to modify and adjust the tool for maximum benefit and use. The design was altered several times based on employee feedback and work task observation until it met the needs of the team. The iWorks Health therapist then observed and coached handler proper technique and body mechanics to maximize employee safety. The Corporate Risk Manager approved the tool and implemented the process, and a training video was created for material handlers nationwide to train on proper use of the tool.

Throughout this process, the therapist continued to meet with the employee with the sore left shoulder. First aid intervention using soft tissue work, kinesiotape and stretches allowed continued healing. Additionally, the employee received ergonomic coaching and observation with the use of the new tool to support further healing and prevent further injury. After four sessions over an eight week period, the employee reported a resolution of his symptoms.

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