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Injuries are a huge inconvenience for any athlete or worker and cost organizations, and governments, hundreds of billions of dollars per year. Most of these injuries are avoidable though. In this article we review injuries at work and how to prevent them.

Injury: The Cost and The Causes

For any company that relies on the physical performance of it's workers, which is more than most people might guess, injury is one of the biggest threats to productivity and financial performance that needs to be dealt with.

An obvious example of the impact of major injuries can be seen in any large-scale sport, with players or athletes missing game days, major prizefights being rescheduled or postponed, or a player being benched during competition.

However, these injuries are not just inconvenient to those injured, but also very costly.

In sport alone, injury is estimated to cost anywhere from $206,000 per year in lower contact sports like soccer, and over $14,000,000 per year in high contact sports like the American Football.

It's important to note that these are costs incurred by the sports team or organization alone, with total costs between healthcare provision and rehabilitation from government and insurance funding costing anywhere from $225 million to upwards of ten billion dollars each year.

As stated above, this problem is not just isolated to sport, with injuries in occupations like the military, the police and even manual laborers.

With injuries to laborers costing over $180 billion per year, with a cost of $1.5 trillion dollars per year for the military, and nearly a billion for firefighters.

These high numbers come from the fact that injuries are not only directly costly, due to the cost of treating the injury, but are also costly indirectly in that the injured employees’ absence leads to losses in productivity and work.

While some may argue that these injuries are inevitable, a large percentage of them stem from muscle strains or ligament sprains or tears, which has been shown to be preventable with training, unlike contact based injuries such as concussions in the NFL, which are harder to reduce.

So, it’s clear injuries are detrimental to both the employee and employer and that preventing these is an ideal solution.

But how does an injury like a sprain or tear occur and how can it be prevented?

This has been a question that has, and still is, largely debated in the scientific community.

But most agree that injury is usually caused from poor tissue stress distribution, i.e. placing stress on weaker tissues like tendons, ligaments or weaker muscles, instead of having the stronger muscles ‘take the weight’, or from simply overloading the working muscles, through either carrying out work when fatigued or carrying out excessively intense work.

So, in simple terms, either doing an activity with bad technique, with too much intensity or weight or doing an activity too much increases injury risk. In fact, overuse injuries and muscle sprains account for most injuries in almost all professions. Considering this, the discussion then becomes about preventing these injuries.

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  • Photo courtesy of freepik.com
  • Photo courtesy of freepik.com

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