Can I Explore Ergonomics As An Opportunity To Expand My Kinesiology Service?

 

Guest blog post written by Dr. Steve Fischer

Why choose ergonomics?

Kinesiologists practicing in ergonomics play an essential role in helping workers to stay at work and return to work following injury.  From back injuries to broken bones, work-related injuries and associated absences continue to cost workplaces billions of dollars within North America.  Kinesiologists with strong skills in ergonomics can lead the musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) prevention fight and help ensure that all workers can enjoy long and healthy careers.

Ergonomics, briefly summarized as “the science of work”, plays an important role in guiding us in adapting and modifying the demands of work to fit the needs of the workforce.  When the demands of work become too much, workers are at risk for all sorts of maladies, including MSDs. As a result, many kinesiologists practicing in ergonomics will focus on helping workers stay at work and return to work by identifying and reducing MSD risks.

Helping workers to stay at work by practicing ergonomics

In the clinic, kinesiologists often work one on one with clients to help them achieve their goals and objectives. When helping to prevent injuries in the workplace,  kinesiologists often direct their attention to an entire group of workers, rather than one individual. Using processes like the Recognize – Assess – Control – Evaluate (RACE) model, kinesiologists will help employees stay at work by consistently monitoring and ensuring that there is a balance between the demands of their job and their needs.   

Helping workers return to work by practicing ergonomics

Despite our best efforts, sometimes workers get hurt. Following any acute rehabilitation, early and safe return to work can be an important step on the journey to full reintegration in the workplace. However, to support and sustain early and safe return to work, workplaces can rely on the expertise of a kinesiologist practicing ergonomics.  Kinesiologists may again adopt an individual client focus. Working closely with the client, employer, case manager and others, a kinesiologist can:

  • evaluate the specific capabilities of a worker hoping to return to work (maybe completing a functional capacity evaluation is also an opportunity for you)
  • assess the ergonomics of the current role (doing a physical demands description and MSD risk assessment)
  • combine insights to adapt the work as necessary to best accommodate for the needs of the client.

Tools of the trade

Kinesiologists have many tools to assess their clients in the clinic. The same is true in the workplace, whether focusing on helping workers stay at work, or helping a worker to return to work. To be effective as a kinesiologist practicing in ergonomics, it is essential to:

  1. build and grow your ergonomics assessment toolbox
  2. effectively choose appropriate assessment tools for the situation at hand.

The size of your current ergonomics assessment toolbox likely depends on where you completed your kinesiology degree and if you chose to take elective courses in ergonomics. Ergonomics courses vary widely across Canada, both in availability and content, meaning that those who have elected to pursue ergonomics training may have a unique competitive advantage to provide services as a kinesiologist practicing in ergonomics!

However, if you’re new to ergonomics and want to learn more, you can check out the Ergonomics & Occupational Wellness module in Kin School. Or, if you’d really like to dive in a little deeper, stay tuned for the Advanced Ergonomics course launching in 2022! 

 

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