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The costliest workplace MSK injury? The shoulder.

Workplace musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries account for about 35% of the productivity loss and days-away-from-work, based on claims submitted by several researchers. Frequent, heavy, and repetitive activities can cause painful injuries in muscles, tendons, nerves, and even bones.

Workplace musculoskeletal injuries are the costliest of all occupational injuries. Thanks to the long-term care requirements, which involve physical therapists, occupational therapists, chiropractors, mental health professionals, and emergency room visits.

Shockingly, back sprains are no longer the most expensive workplace injury. In fact, the shoulder and rotator cuff injuries have taken up the top spot with $46,000 overall cost per case, with the knee close behind at $33,000 per case which involves emergency room visits, treatment costs involving physical therapists, chiropractors, mental health counselors, and long-term care. In addition, shoulder injuries average 27 days of missed work and such injuries typically result in a workers’ compensation claim.


How Can Employers be Proactive?

Hazards are best eliminated when identified by source. This is a fundamental principle of occupational health and safety. Ergonomics alone to mitigate MSKs among physically demanding jobs, is not a fully effective solution toward workplace injury prevention. In work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), the prime source is typically not the workplace it’s usually the mis-matched worker to the work.

At DataFit, we use the “gold standard” for physical capability assessments, iso-kinetic dynamometry technology. Iso-kinetics is a form of measuring human physical aptitude and is used by clinical researchers, medical clinicians, the military, and professional sports teams to evaluate the physical capabilities of individuals. The DataFit Physical Capability Assessment (PCA) measures approximately 83% of the body’s muscles (focused on the knee and shoulder joints) which are typically engaged in job tasks (push, pull, lift, and carry).

The PCA delivers the following benefits:

  • Accurate Results:delivers consistent, objective data. Every individual goes through the same rigorous, evidence-based assessment process to ensure accuracy for every employee or job candidate.
  • Standardized Process: Non-bias assessment concentrated on repetitive and total stress to the individuals’ physical musculoskeletal capabilities, short and long-term ability to perform job requirements.
  • No Masking: advanced assessment technique ensures that workers cannot mask physical conditions, ensuring genuine results.
  • EEO Compliant:meets or exceeds existing regulatory standards.
  • Ideal Process: to accurately match the physical capabilities of a worker to the requirements of the work.


Overall, it is always better to take a multi-disciplinary approach to mitigate WMSDs. Identifying ergonomic risks without also identifying physical risks (or vice versa) is equal to putting new tires on a vehicle that doesn’t have an engine. While you may have made some improvements to move toward your goal, you haven’t truly taken into account everything that needs to be addressed. For best results, ergonomics and physical capability assessments (PCA) should live side by side to optimize the overall health and safety of your workforce.

About the author

Philip Stotter, MS, CEP

Philip Stotter, MS, CEP has over 25+ years of experience in the medical, health, wellness, and professional sports industries. Clinician turned business developer, Philip is a sought-after industry speaker and professional consultant. His ground-breaking work in injury prevention, paired with the science of human movement, has put him at the forefront of product development with a multidisciplinary approach that integrates physiology, biomechanics, cutting-edge technologies, and data-driven research.