OSHA’s View on Stretching and Injury Prescription
by Jeff Sanford, CPE
At the recent SESHA Conference, I heard a speaker discussing stretching as a method to control MSD’s. During the talk, there was a ‘point-counterpoint’ type discussion on how stretching can be both a positive and a negative. One of the key takeaways for me was a strong message from OSHA that I had not heard before.
Apparently OSHA has concluded that “therapeutic exercise” recommended by a health care professional in response to minor work-related “pain” constitutes medical treatment under OSHA’s recordkeeping rule and that “work-related minor musculoskeletal discomfort treated with therapeutic exercise constitutes a recordable case.”
I was shocked and concerned for all that use stretching as a means to reduce injuries. This is another reason to take a deeper look at how you are conducting your stretching program and whether it is worth it.
I did a search on the topic to see if anyone is talking about it and I came across a couple of well-written blog posts at oshalawblog.com. I liked this summary:
“OSHA’s interpretation is particularly important for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), as MSDs are often managed, in part, through exercise regimes. OSHA does note in the letter that exercise given as a purely precautionary measure (i.e., before the onsite of signs or symptoms) would not qualify for recordability. However, if an employee experiences any signs or symptoms of a work-related injury or illness — even very early signs or symptoms — exercise given to manage those signs or symptoms would constitute medical treatment for recordability purposes.”
What are your thoughts?