Love rugby or loathe it, there will be no avoiding this year’s biggest sporting extravaganza. Some of you will watch it live, others will try to avoid seeing it on TV, some of you will rent your homes for thousands of dollars a week, while others wonder what to do with the children and their extra ‘world cup’ school holidays.
Regardless of our attitude to the sport, we are all aware of the hard training those players undertake to ensure peak physical performance and stave off injury. Before the cup, they will be evaluating, practising, fine tuning and practising some more.
We can learn plenty from these sportsmen.
Your workers may not be elite athletes preparing for a world class event but they are performing a physical activity. And when you implement an injury prevention programme, you’re hoping to improve your workers’ physical skills, awareness and performance, in order to reduce the risk of them sustaining an injury.
Whether you are All Black Dan Carter trying to score a try while staying off the injury bench, or a factory engineer trying to use pliers more effectively to eliminate arm strain, the same principles of physical learning apply.
Learn from the experts
If you want to be good at any skill, study the experts.
Watch Dan Carter run with a rugby ball. Look at the way Tiger Woods swings a club (try not to emulate his personal life though). Watch the power behind a Venus Williams tennis serve. Witness Michael Schumacher take a corner in a formula one car.
These people are experts in their field, masters at performing their tasks extraordinarily effectively, without pain or injury. In that respect, there are Dan Carters and Venus Williams’ in every workplace.
So take careful note of the guy in the loading bay who shifts boxes all day without experiencing back pain, or the meat worker who has been using a knife for years without any upper limb issues. They’re the ones to emulate.
Transfer the information
Would you learn to ride a bike by watching a DVD or sitting at a computer?
Would you try to improve your motocross skills by analysing a video, then answering some competency-based questions?
Would you learn to drive a car by having the instructor demonstrate driving techniques and hazards before letting you loose on Auckland’s motorways?
You’d be mad to try!
There are some solid, well-recognised principles that dictate the way we learn a physical skill. They come with a plethora of fancy-named theories based on ‘neurological feedback loops’, ‘conscious/unconscious competency models’, the ‘stages of physical learning’.
While we recognise the importance of applying these principles to sporting skills or driving a car, too often we think we can skip steps when it comes to training individuals to improve their physical working techniques.
We place people in front of DVDs and computers, ask an expert to demonstrate, erect posters and then scratch our heads and wonder why we haven’t managed to reduce our strain/sprain injury rates.
Sound too hard? Just want to get people in and out of training, so it doesn’t cost too much and take them off the job for too long?
Well then, expect to gain in proportion to your investment. For most people, that is nothing. In fact, worse than nothing because employees become despondent and irritated at having to waste time on training that is not relevant to their life and will not help them.
Treat your staff like emerging sports stars and you (and they) will reap the benefits.
Actually, it’s not difficult to implement an effective injury prevention training programme. That means one that offers the correct information and is delivered properly, to promote effective physical learning, improve workers techniques with the resultant reduction in injuries. Do your homework. Quiz prospective trainers closely. Find out exactly how they will actually improve workers’ physical habits and reduce injuries.
Implement the right training now and, before you know it, you will have a workforce full of All Blacks.