I have a pretty good idea that a number of you will read this post’s title and say “that's crazy.” I honestly have to say I thought the same thing when I was first introduced to the idea of an employee stretch program years ago. I had a safety position with a large construction company and during that era we were all 10 feet tall and bulletproof. Stretching was not for construction workers—it was for office and factory workers.
But this stretching order came from high up, and we went kicking and dragging our feet. Then a funny thing happened. Slowly, the guys and gals started participating. We obviously had some folks who were so resistant to change that they did it halfheartedly, but within a month or two, they were in the minority.
Why did people begin to take it seriously? In my estimation, there were a number of positives that outweighed the negatives:
- They began to feel better. Limbering up and getting blood flowing into their muscles wasn't painful, especially for those who drove two hours to be there for 7 a.m.
- Communications improved. The superintendent and foreman who led the stretches realized they had a captive audience and took advantage of it. Simple announcements like what time the concrete would arrive or when the power would go out were disseminated to everybody during stretch break and not just a few.
- Group cohesion took hold. Nobody wanted to walk into the group when half the routine was done or not show up at all. Those who did could expect comments or advice on where to purchase a decent watch.
- Injuries decreased. After 18 months, muscle strains and sprains were reduced by approximately 40%. That's a considerable savings considering the total employee population was about 1,200 at the time.
That company continues to benefit from stretch breaks to this day. In fact, many of the competitors and subcontractors who chuckled in those early years do the same stretches today simply because they can't afford not to. I have witnessed many MEMIC policyholders going through the same trials and tribulations. And they too have benefited from this basic loss control effort.
Jumpstart or liven up your stretch break at work. Download MEMIC’s stretch poster and hang it right where employees gather to stretch:
If you care to read about a national manufacturing facility that also found success in a stretch program, than go to: