Occupational therapy and ergonomics in the workplace

The following article was kindly contributed by Smith Bradley & Associates, an Occupational Therapy firm based in Ottawa.

Returning to work following a motor vehicle accident can be difficult, regardless of the type of work that you do.  When you’ve had an injury, even relatively sedentary jobs can feel strenuous. It is important to recognize that an ergonomic evaluation of your workstation is available to you through your automobile insurance’s accident benefits, before or after your return to work.  The support of an Occupational Therapist (OT) can assist you in addressing and responding to these challenges resulting from a motor vehicle accident.

Ergonomics is most easily understood as the process of making a workplace accessible to you in order for you to perform your job. An ergonomic evaluation consists of the following:

  1. An interview with you, the employee, to understand your injuries and/or health-related concerns;
  2. Assessment through observation and measurement of the present workstation, and description of the job tasks performed at that workstation;
  3. Discussion of possible modifications to the work environment that would facilitate your performance of job tasks, taking injuries into consideration;
  4. Education with respect to work postures, pace, stretches/exercises recommended for injury management and prevention of symptom exacerbation;
  5. A comprehensive report with recommendations for changes or modifications, including ergonomic products, if needed.  A copy of the report is provided to you, with a summary of ergonomic recommendations that you can share with your employer.  The report is also issued to the automobile insurance company, particularly to explain expenses associated with the recommendations.

Ergonomics and OT: Occupational Therapists are licensed health care practitioners who understand the structure and function of the human body and the effects of illness and injury on performance of activities throughout day-to-day life. OTs specialize in assessing the person, their environment and the tasks performed within that environment, and problem solving to ensure that individuals can function in their environment, including in the workplace.   Ergonomics is therefore inherent in what occupational therapists do.

Ergonomic assessments can take place in many places, including offices, home offices, restaurants, schools, industrial plants, farms, high tech facilities and commercial vehicles.  If you feel that you would benefit from an ergonomic evaluation at your workstation to help you function at work following an accident, contact an occupational therapist, or ask your employer, insurance adjuster or your personal injury lawyer to assist you with this referral.

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Smith Bradley & Associates is an Ottawa-based Occupational Therapy firm with over 13 years of experience performing Ergonomic Evaluations for individuals recovering from injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents.  For more information, please visit www.smithbradley.com

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