Julie Collins, a Boston University (BU) College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College doctoral student, has developed a new intervention with mentorship from BU faculty and practitioners to help minimize workplace injury and decrease work-related injury costs. According to a Boston University College of Arts and Sciences news release, Collins worked with BU Sargent faculty Lee Marinko, PT, ScD, and Kelly Pesanelli, PT, MSPT, to implement a program of education and equipment modification specifically designed to address shoulder injuries.

A news report from Science Daily notes that repetitive motion injuries result in an average of 23 days away from work, which is three times the number of days from other injuries. Also, shoulder injuries are the most common repetitive motion injury reported and the second most frequent injury experienced by janitors and custodial workers. For the practicum project, all Boston University custodians were required to complete a functional task analysis of their daily work activities as well as attend annual presentations on workplace ergonomics.

In addition, custodians were provided with step stools to decrease the frequency of overhead tasks. From 2002 to 2009, 14% of shoulder injuries among the participants were caused by overuse; however, after implementation of the intervention in 2010, no BU custodians experienced shoulder injuries from overuse or repetitive motions. As a result of the project, the annual costs to the university associated with shoulder injuries decreased from $160,481.72 to $25,512.47, which is an almost 85% drop.

Marinko states, “Injury prevention through education and workplace modifications is crucial to reduce the overwhelming expense of musculoskeletal injuries. This project highlights how simple changes can have a significant impact, not only on cost but also on employee health and safety.”

Pesanelli adds, “Collaborative programs with employers, occupational health, physical therapy, and the employee should be commonplace in industry. Our model is an excellent example of how we can work together to make an impact.”

[Sources: Science Daily, Boston University College of Arts and Sciences]