The knee is the largest joint in our body and, by the nature of its use, takes the brunt of our day-to-day activities. Think about all of the things you do on a daily basis and then try to imagine doing any of them without your knees. Rolling over in bed would be about the only thing you could perform; you couldn’t even stand up to start your day without the use of your knees.
Those jointed masses of bone and ligament help us to stand, bend, squat, walk, jump, run, crawl, kneel, pivot, and even sit. Thinking about everything that these joints do for us, it only makes sense to take good care of them.
Did you know that your knee absorbs four times your body weight when walking and 10 times your body weight when running? Given these numbers, it is evident that even workers with a smaller body frame, carrying an appropriate weight are still stressing their knees every day. Adding my 20-40 pounds of extra body fat, depending on the month, only compounds my chances of experiencing a debilitating knee injury at work sooner rather than later.
Impact of Knee Injuries in the Workplace
Due to the amount of work our knees perform to propel us through life, they are often the first to break down and let us know they are doing so. Most people have experienced knee pain at one point in their lives, or will experience knee pain in the future. The American Osteopathic Association states that “close to 65% of Americans ages 18 to 34 have experienced chronic pain or someone they care for has experienced chronic pain during the past year.” This number accounts for a large portion of our contemporary workforce. Those of us that work in heavier job classes like skilled trades or nursing can experience knee degeneration at a more rapid pace.
According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, workplace knee injuries account for 15-20 percent of lost time injuries resulting in 16 days away from work on average. . Early diagnosis and treatment can drastically reduce overall claim cost and days missed from work. Ignoring the pain will rarely make our knee issues go away. Let’s take a look at some simple, cost-effective measures you can implement in your workplace to reduce exposure.
- Raise the work level so workers are on their knees less.
- Design workspaces so workers can sit rather than kneel.
- Stage materials so that workers don’t have to bend or kneel to lift.
- Use a rolling stool when floor work and movement are required.
- Provide opportunities for workers to stretch knees through their full range of motion. This helps to lubricate the knee joint.
- Train your workforce on appropriate knee exercises and stretches.
- Provide an opportunity for them to stretch before, during, and after work.
- Provide shock absorbing knee pads for individuals expected to work from their knees.
- As always, keep your work environment free of clutter and tripping hazards.
Set an Example for Workplace Safety
Safety starts and ends with you. The culture is yours to create. Develop it. Own it. Exemplify it.
A Professional Employer Organization can help you set the standards for workplace safety by developing safety manuals, training programs, and other strategies to protect your people. Contact GMS today to learn more about risk management services that can create a safer working environment.