Last week, my 14-year-old daughter suffered what could be a season-ending injury during one of her basketball games. After doctor visits and an MRI, we learned she luckily only had a bruise to her AC joint — thankfully, no ligaments were involved so no surgery — but the pain is real, and I don’t imagine she’s getting back on the court anytime soon.
This is not her first sports-related injury. It got me thinking how frustrating it is that these kids don’t get the proper conditioning for most sports. It’s not her fault, nor her coaches but simply because there isn’t enough time scheduled between games to allow the players to fully warm up, stretch and prepare. If you watch a professional basketball player, they warm up and practice before the games, often live on TV. Most experts agree that 15 to 20 minutes of warm-up time is best to get your body ready for play and goes a long way in preventing injuries.
But with hundreds of games each weekend and only so many sites for games, there are usually only minutes between each game for the players to shoot some hoops and stretch properly. In elementary or middle schools, it’s not like there is room for the girls to run around elsewhere. So, they run out on the court without their bodies properly prepared. No wonder they’re dashing off the court grimacing more than they should be. A little stretching and warming up could go a long way to keeping kids healthy in youth sports.
You could draw a parallel here to on-the-job injuries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the private manufacturing industry during 2020, there were 373,300 total recordable cases (TRC) of nonfatal injuries and illnesses. Of those, 135,900 had days away from work, 108,800 had days of job transfer or restriction, and 128,700 had other recordable cases. The total recordable case incidence rate per 100 full-time equivalent workers was 3.1.
These injuries cost on average $40,000 based on the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s Workers Compensation Statistical Plan. And those are only the direct costs, indicates America Safe Group. Once you add in wages during work stoppage, OSHA fines and actions, lost production, increase in workers’ compensation costs, and other staff time, you’re looking at more like $120,000, AmericaSafe Group calculates.
That’s a lot of money and much of it is preventable. Too often, machine operators in factories or on jobsites are not being educated on their machines the way they should be and are expected to operate machines as designed (then blamed for human error when operated outside of intended design parameters).
Like my daughter needs better conditioning, fluid power professionals need more consistent, on-the-job training along with better system designs featuring embedded safety that enable operators to prevent common failures or weaknesses. If you speak with anyone in the fluid power industry, whether on the user or manufacturer side, you’ll often hear the biggest complaint is the lack of qualified employees. But there’s no excuse for this. With several industry associations working to educate a skilled workforce and more qualified consultants and trainers than in other areas I’ve written about over the years, there is ample opportunity to find the proper training. If you need training or know someone working on hydraulic or pneumatic systems, contact the IFPS, NFPA, FPDA, or NAHAD for resources and help. The Milwaukee School of Engineering offers a variety of professional education classes as well. Or simply get on LinkedIn and start connecting with one of the many professional trainers that are on there, sharing their knowledge on a daily basis.
Most injuries are preventable through proper training and preparation. Let’s reduce those statistics in our industry.
Filed Under: News