Morning stretches help Seattle construction workers avoid injury

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by JEAN ENERSEN / KING 5 HealthLink

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KING5.com

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 8:07 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 6 at 1:42 PM

Even before healthcare reform, some companies took matters into their own hands, finding ways to keep employees healthier.  Seattle’s Sellen Construction came up with a solution you might not expect – stretching. 

Even before the sun comes up, Sellen Construction workers are on the job. It’s back breaking work.

“First thing in the morning, we’re all stiff from the day before,” said worker Charlie Nahorniak.

No wonder injuries are common.

“What didn't surprise us was the type of injuries we were having. The most were sprains and strains, soft tissue injuries. What did surprise us is that most of those were happening first thing in the morning, very early in the day,” said Frank Mandell, Sellen Project Safety Manager.

So before the first screw is tightened, the first welding torch sparks into action and the first sheets of plywood are hoisted into the air, the group spends a few minutes stretching, doing exercises with names like “tin man,” “airplane” and “ape hangers.”

Not exactly what you’d expect construction workers to be doing on the job.

“At first a lot of them thought that this was the latest fad, you know this is a little ridiculous,” said Mandell, “but it didn't take long for them to start seeing the benefits of it, start seeing the results.”

Sellen brought in a specialist to custom-design the exercises for the type of lifting and bending their workers do.

“I had a sore back before we started the program, and it hasn’t,” said worker Allen Stoops. “It’s been good.”

“Some of the ones that were complaining about it the most were some of the ones who swear by it the hardest now,” said Mandell.

Sellen introduced the stretching program two years ago and reports that injuries are down as a result.

Related links:

ErgoFit Consulting Inc.
 

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