Home OSHA’s View on Stretching and Injury Prescription Ergonomics Done Right®

Written by: humantech on May 30th, 2012

by Jeff Sanford, CPE

Jeff Sanford, CPEAt 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?

2 responses to “OSHA’s View on Stretching and Injury Prescription”

  1. Matt Jeffs, DPT, CEAS II says:

    I’ve followed the same OSA law blog and didn’t see the ‘even very early signs or symptoms’. Obviously, that is up to interpretation and documentation. It may be splitting hairs, but semantics are at play here. Is ‘irritation’ tantamount to ‘pain’? Is ‘fatigue’ equal to ‘exhaustion’? Being careful in documentation isn’t the same thing as being evasive. Limiting exposure through responsive documentation requires sophistication and discernment. Good post, Jeff.

  2. Don Nanneman MPH, RN says:

    There is at least one issue that has not been addressed the document reads “signs or symptoms of an injury or illness”. It seems to me that the individual’s clinical picture has to reach some threshold indicating that they have an injury or illness not just a few isolated signs or symptoms. I may have painful swollen dis colored feet. This might be due to peripheral vascular disease or might just mean I spent too much time in poor fitting shoes that day.

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