A Collaboration Between Oregon Tradeswomen, Inc. and Therapeutic Associates East Portland Physical Therapy
Damage to the back, neck, and shoulders account for over 25% of all construction related injuries, significantly more than any other injuries experienced in the trades (Center for Protection of Workers’ Rights, 2010). Here at OTI, we strive to train women to successfully enter the construction trades with the hopes that they will have long, rewarding careers. In addition to providing classroom and hands-on training, we require students to participate in a fitness component that helps women strengthen their core muscles to prepare them for the physical demands that work in the trades requires. While fitness training is great, we also know that it is not enough to help women keep their number one tool, their bodies, safe from neck, shoulder, and back injuries that can be debilitating.
Enter Therapeutic Associates East Portland Physical Therapy! Early in 2015 the East Portland branch of Therapeutic Associates reached out to OTI with the offer of collaborating to help keep our tradeswomen safe and healthy. Clinic director Peter Dills, PT, DPT, staff therapist Sarah Stuhr, PT, DPT, FAAOMPT, and physical therapy aide Elizabeth Bilotta met with OTI staff and developed a workshop for our Trades and Apprenticeship Career Class (TACC) students that would help them become educated about workplace risk factors and injury prevention.
Peter, Sarah, and Elizabeth put on a four hour workshop on August 22, which included classroom education about risk, prevention, and what steps to take when a tradeswoman realizes she has been injured. In addition, they provided individualized training to 14 women, observing them lift and carry common objects found on construction sites, such as lumber, sheets of plywood, and table saws. The Therapeutic Associates East Portland Physical Therapy team observed TACC students’ lifting and carrying techniques, provided instruction on the mechanics of lifting/carrying and assisted them in beginning to develop safe habits to utilize on the job site. The workshop finished up with the practice of a daily stretching & foam roller recovery routines as well as instruction on techniques for self-managing minor injuries.
The class was a tremendous success. TACC students and recent graduates that attended reported that they were grateful to be receiving this training before they began to develop unsafe habits in the field. Peter, Sarah, and Elizabeth stated that they were impressed with how engaged our future tradeswomen were with both the classroom and hands-on training.
This important partnership is one that we are looking forward to continuing to build upon and fine tune for future classes and, potentially, for tradeswomen that have been in the field for a while but may not have had instruction in developing safe lifting/carrying habits. We are looking forward to another workshop for our October – December TACC students.
We are so excited to continue this work with the amazing staff at Therapeutic Associates East Portland Physical Therapy. Keeping our tradeswomen safe and healthy so they can have longevity in the field is of the utmost importance to us. So, from all of us here at OTI, a huge thank you to Peter, Sarah, and a special shout out to Elizabeth for initiating the conversation about a partnership between our organizations. We look forward to a long and fruitful relationship!