Periodic layoffs also have a devastating effect on compensation costs which will be incurred in the near future. When people return from layoff, they are not prepared physically for the work that they left behind and, in addition, they have been doing things like cutting firewood, polishing the car for 12 hours, etc. When they come back to the routine and experience the unrelenting physical demands of the job, those individuals that have been doing other things or who have injured themselves slightly will not have the stamina or the ability to do their job without hurting. Furthermore, when they are unable to work because they are hurting or have time off, it puts more stress on the other workers who must bear the workload and they then begin hurting and become inefficient on the job.
As layoffs occur we also see periodic spurts of overtime which further stress the system, and result in more time off and more stress on the remaining workers. This cycle continues to worsen until a point is reached in which there seems to be no solution except serious medical intervention. This results in costly disability settlements, costly medical bills and substantial time loss injuries. An additional effect of this situation would be the dilution of a good work force because people come back with permanent restrictions which ultimately dilute the effectiveness of the work force. This results in additional hiring that usually has a large population of "contaminated" workers (those people that have become dissatisfied with working conditions at their previous jobs, and feel that finding a different job that doesn't cause them to hurt so much or have the symptoms they were experiencing will solve their problems -- and we know that is not a solution by any means). The additional problems that the company will incur with the most recently hired additions will compound the problems rather than offer the solution management thinks will happen. Further, statistics clearly demonstrate that most workers' compensation claims occur within the first three months to a year of employment. If the proper screening procedures are used, a good work force will begin to be built. Everyone differs in their opinion of what is good screening procedure; the one that should be used is the procedure that has documented success.
The physical also has to pass the requirements and the stringent rules of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and like agencies. The typical medical screen that is focused on this concept usually bases the decision on x-rays graded on a one-to- five scale for pass/fail. That will not be sufficient if challenged and further problems may arise if a worker is improperly classified to be handicapped, and under that ruling a position must be made for that individual because he is handicapped. Improper pre-employment could result in an unbelievable disaster for someone who doesn't know for sure if they are doing the procedures according to all the standards that need to be considered. The end result, just from this aspect alone, can be truly cost-effective and beneficial to the employer and the employee if done properly, or result in a nightmare of litigation and injuries resulting from improper screening procedures that will surely occur. The chiropractor can offer so much beneficial information with the intimate knowledge that the education supplies and even more so when this understanding is clarified and refined through courses taught through the Motion Palpation Institute. Before anything can be done for any company they must understand the thought process that is inherent to prevention; prevention stems from in-house procedures that the company itself takes responsibility for. It should be the primary focus of those chiropractors that are interested in working with industry to accept this premise as the first step in working with companies.
This column will have as its primary focus this year, concepts that will give insight in relating prevention concepts to industry.
Theodore Oslay, D.C.
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