Injury Prevention in an Industrial Environment via Strategic Job Placement

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Cooper, Michelle
Injury prevention; industrial; Public Health
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Objectives. This study investigated the effects of an injury prevention program, specific to work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), which placed employees into jobs based on their physical abilities compared to the physical demands of their prospective jobs.Methods. Employee injury data (N=3550) from a large auto manufacturer in the U.S. was analyzed to examine changes in injury rates for employees that were hired pre versus post-strategic placement. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to determine dependence between placement, injury within 120 days of hire and gender.Results. Chi-square tests of independence revealed that injury rates and job placement may be dependent. Injury rates within 120 days of hire decreased by nearly half (P<0.001) during the post-placement phase. With this decline, injury reduction was most notable if employees were matched to at least 81-100% of job rotations (P<0.01). Injury rates were also discovered to be dependent on gender, as females had higher injury rates than males during the pre and post-placement phases (P<0.001).Conclusions. Job placement based on physical abilities may significantly reduce the risk for work related musculoskeletal injuries in jobs with physically exhaustive duties, such as auto manufacturing. Manufacturing companies should consider refocusing energies on the environmental changes as a means to decrease WMSDs and the high costs associated with these types of injuries.