How Onsite Clinics Increase Health and Safety for Construction Employees

Onsite care clinics are a direct investment in employees and produce a positive ROI. With a smaller capital investment and scalable resources, small-to-medium-sized businesses can reap returns on this attractive benefit.
By Chad Henriksen
October 27, 2020

Construction jobs come and go as fast as the seasons, but chronic pain and potential damages from the job follow employees much longer. As construction sites look to maintain workplace health and safety, they frequently offer affordable and gracious health and medical packages, but oftentimes fall short of providing real-time nearby assistance.

The construction workplace can be dangerous. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ranks construction as the sixth most dangerous occupation for workers based on the numbers of non-fatal injuries. According to a recent survey, these injuries cost the industry nearly $190 million each week. Overexertion involving outside sources, such as lifting, pushing and carrying items make up for nearly 17% of these costs.

For workers that engage in highly repetitive motions, awkward body positions, heavy lifting, consistent bending and work with vibrating tools and machines, these actions take a toll on the body and mind. All these movements can cause damage throughout the body which can lead to severe injuries over long periods of time. The result is both short- and long-term recovery days and time off for employees. Human resources and benefits managers at construction firms across the country are turning to a more proactive approach for employee health.

In 2017, some construction companies added onsite natural care clinics to the workplace to help employees recover from minor injuries or persistent pain before they become a bigger problem. While popularity is on the rise, onsite clinics have become more than a health benefit that excites and draws in new hires; they've also been proven to lead to positive health outcomes and decrease medical expenses for the company and employee.

In construction, the nature of the constantly-changing-jobsite requires onsite or near-site clinic offerings to remain flexible. While some clinics are set up at the construction company headquarters, many employer-provided clinics also utilize an external network of local providers to improve access and convenience for the employee. For example, natural care “onsite” clinics often include a collection of preferred chiropractic services within the community in which the employee lives or commonly takes on projects.

Regardless of location, employees are empowered to utilize the services as the provider offering often has no out-of-pocket cost to them and is available during working hours. These services are also known to bridge the gap between information and taking action in one's health, often resulting in reduced stress, improved mental, movement and physical well-being.

While the costs of investments for employee health and wellness are typically regarded as overheads, leaders should consider the long-term positive impacts, including reduced healthcare costs and injuries, absenteeism and dependency on pain killers.

Reduced Healthcare Costs and Injuries

With onsite care, a chiropractor can help identify, educate and correct improper movements or other potential risks or underlying symptoms before the problem occurs or becomes more severe. For example, a mild low back sprain is easier to treat and less costly compared to a lumbar disc surgery. Treating injuries reactively may require surgery, lost time from work, lost productivity, high medical expenses and more. Some on-site clinics have experienced up to a $4 cost savings for every $1 invested in onsite care; others have benefitted from a 63% reduction in workplace injuries after implementation.

Reduced absenteeism or presenteeism

Unengaged employees cost the U.S. between $438 billion to $605 billion a year in lost productivity, but experts say health benefits can move the needle by reducing burnout, stress and underlying health conditions. Unlike a desk job, when employees are unengaged or distracted on a construction site, life-altering accidents can occur.

By proactively addressing health concerns and promoting wellness, employees will be less distracted by aches and pains that hinder them to fully perform their duties. Chiropractic and other complementary care models can reduce the impact of those annoyances and can positively impact employees' mental health.

Reduced drug dependency

By focusing on prevention and early intervention, clinicians can address health issues before addictive, and often expensive, prescription drugs are needed. Additionally, chiropractic treatment is an ideal first option for drug-free and non-invasive back and general neuro-musculoskeletal pain management.

Research has shown that prescribing opioids excessively and too early after a workplace injury can lead to additional risks for both the worker and employer, like drug dependence and extended recovery time from home. This is particularly important to consider now as some studies have shown that the millions of Americans with an opioid use disorder are at a higher risk due to COVID-19.

While an initial expense, onsite care clinics are a direct investment in employees and produce a positive return on investment. Programs are adaptable for business and employee headcounts of all sizes. With a smaller capital investment and scalable resources, small-to-medium-sized businesses can reap huge returns on this attractive benefit.

For these reasons and more, this model of care will become more prevalent in the industry and incorporated by both commercial construction firms as well as smaller, more regional construction contractors.

by Chad Henriksen

Dr. Chad Henriksen has providaed more than 30,000 hours of on-site health and wellness services to various industries including seminars, ergonomic consultations, health and safety workshops, and injury prevention programs. His approach to health and wellness has a proven track record resulting in employee benefits and corporate cost savings. In his current position as Director of WorkSiteRight at Northwestern Health Sciences University (NWHSU), Dr. Henriksen oversees health, wellness and safety services to employers, including employee education, ergonomic work, on-site care facilities and wellness program coordination. He is an instructor for the NWHSU’s postgraduate Occupational Health program.

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