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Safety climate, leadership key factors in workplace MSD prevention programs: Keynote

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Research shows that stretch and flex programs do not reduce exposure to, and symptoms of, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among construction workers, so why are they still so popular at work sites?

The answer has to do with what else is taking place during these morning huddles, Linda Goldenhar said in keynote remarks delivered this morning at the ninth International Scientific Conference on the Prevention of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders  in Toronto, before an audience of about 400 researchers and clinicians.

“I want to put the idea out there that while the direct effects of stretch and flex programs on reducing MSDs may be nil, there appears to be positive indirect effects on the indicators of safety climate and perhaps other safety outcomes when workers are gathered together in a huddle before the work day begins to discuss the tasks ahead, the possible hazards and also to stretch,” said Goldenhar, director of research and evaluation at the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR) based in Silver Spring, Md.

Goldenhar showed how stretch and flex programs can be used to address many of the eight leading indicators of job site safety climate, as identified by construction stakeholders in collaboration with CPWR.

The eight indicators include:

•demonstrating management commitment

•aligning and integrating safety as a value

•ensuring accountability at all levels

•improving site safety leadership

•empowering and involving workers

•improving communication

•training at all levels

•encouraging owner/client involvement.

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