Adjusting the Way We Approach an Injured Worker

A new term was coined to illustrate those that use their body for work—an industrial athlete. With this new designation comes new ways to think about the healing and recovery process when workers get hurt at work.

Joining the Safety Justice League hosts, safety expert Rachel Walla and physical therapist Chantel Gorton talked about this concept and their work together. Walla is a safety consultant with Ally Safety, which supports safety professionals with products and services to transform workplaces. Gorton currently works as an injury prevention specialist with Work Right NW.

Gorton offered some highlights of her career as a PT, from working with a professional basketball team in Vietnam to doing similar work back in the states.

“I didn’t know if this was the right road for me. Then I met my boss, and it was eye-opening because the mission is to change healthcare for industrial athletes,” she said.

Gorton used the term because they “use their body for a living, the same as athletes.” She noted that these individuals don’t usually know how to make their bodies well, but they still have to work hours a day using it.

Walla had similar thoughts working as a safety professional. She met Gorton through work, and they started to create videos together to address these things.

That awareness set them on a mission to rethink the process for an injured worker. “When there’s an injured worker, you go into this automatic cycle of investigation and follow-up. The goal is to get them back to work, and we want to change that narrative, so they are seen as a person that needs to heal,” Walla said.

Gorton added, “It’s the words we use, and many of these people identify as their trade. So if you can’t work, who are you anymore. It can compound the injury and its perception.”

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