Public Works creates exercise program tailored to the demands of the job

Recognizing the physical demands of many employees’ jobs, the Public Works Department has created a new stretching program aimed at helping employees prevent injuries such as stiff necks, sore backs and muscle strains. 

To launch the program, 20 employees volunteered for training to help them learn how to lead their coworkers in a brief series of stretching and muscle strengthening routines. The peer-led stretching sessions are held at different times of the day and at eight different worksites. Public Works employees are welcome to drop in and participate in any session. The drop-in group sessions are only 15 minutes, and stretching coaches promise to run through the series of stretches whether one person or 30 people drop in that day.

The program, which began in May, is growing quickly. Already, more than 170 employees are participating on a regular basis. 

The program was developed in response to a change in a job classification. In order to become a Public Works Worker 1 or 2, current employees must pass an agility test. The most recently administered agility test was hugely successful, and the next stretching program highlighted the broader value of the program: curbing injuries and reducing the day-to-day aches and pains that can come from performing strenuous tasks.

The stretching program was developed by a consultant that customized stretches to the physical demands of the job (bending, twisting, reaching, lifting heavy objects, etc.) After assessing the tasks that Public Works employees perform, the consultant created stretches that focus on increasing overall flexibility and balance as well as strengthening the back, neck, waist, shoulder, and upper and lower body.

The custom approach even included finding ways that employees can incorporate the rakes, shovels and other tools of the trade into their daily and stretching. After learning the proper form for the stretches, employees are encouraged to periodically do some of the stretches even when they’re out on the job. All stretches were designed to take advantage of the few minutes between tasks (waiting for asphalt or cement to arrive, for example).

Public Works employees who would like to participate in the program or become a peer coach are invited to stop by any of the stretching sessions or contact Scott Kelly, Fleet Services Training Coordinator, at extension 5748 or scott.kelly@minneapolismn.gov.

 

 

Published Aug. 7, 2013