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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

New program seeks injury prevention

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Rom Richey, left, physical therapist, and Jeff Davis (seated right), Worksteps coordinator, oversee a test.
SIKESTON - Statistics show the best way to treat workplace injuries is to prevent them from every occurring.

That is just what a new program being offered by Health Facilities Rehab is designed to do, said Tom Richey, president of Health Facilities Rehab. Worksteps is designed to create a safe, legally compliant, scientific way of matching a worker's capabilities to the essential functions of the job.

"The program was developed as a tool which employers can use to help determine a worker is safely and appropriately matched to the physical demands of the job," he explained.

While the Worksteps Functional Test Model is a national program, Health Facilities Rehab is the first local company trained in the system. According to Richey, several local industries had expressed interest in the Worksteps model.

Two employees have completed the extensive training program at the Worksteps's headquarters in Austin, Texas, with others are to undergo the training and certification. Once the initial training is completed, annual recertification is required to continue involvement in the Worksteps program.

The certified Worksteps employees are trained in a variety of testing and evaluation methods. The local program can provide a pre-offer agility test, which measures a candidate's job capabilities in order to match the performance to the job functions, or a post-offer basic test which includes a number of measurements including maximum effort lifting, strength and motion.

Also available is a functional capacity evaluation which measures an employee's abilities following an injury and a carpal tunnel test.

While Health Facilities Rehab employees were being trained, the Worksteps program also qualified the Sikeston company to ensure it could meet its standards, Richey said.

"This is a premier program that in order for us to maintain we have to abide by their continuing education standards, their equipment and their training. We have to adhere to their strict requirements to keep ourselves educated on industrial medicine and the technology," said Richey.

Karen Henzi, administrator of outpatient services, explained the testing takes the industrial medicine from pre-employment to return to duties following an injury. The overall testing is equally beneficial to employees as to employers, she added.

For the employees, the assessments prior to duty can prove useful if an injury does occur because it provides therapists and doctors with insight to their pre-hire status.

"Having base line of what they can do provides a lot of objective information and can help take the guess work out of rehabilitation," said Henzi.

As for employers, the Worksteps program proves valuable by helping them stay compliant with federal hiring practices and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Also it provides the employers with legal resources to answer questions and ensure federal laws are complied with, said Henzi.

The cost she said, is reasonable because of Health Facilities Rehab's ability to personalize tests to a company's specific job requirements. "The employers will make a better decision on whether to hire the person and will have a very clear picture of whether the applicant can or cannot do the job."

Through Worksteps safety becomes a mission with shared responsibility between employers, employees and the staff at Health Facilities Rehab, Henzi added. "And because it is a whole program with a wonderful track record, we are excited to be associated with them."