Beverly Farraher has been working for the Public Works Department as the Operations Manager since March 2016. Before coming to the City, Beverly worked the previous 27 years at MnDOT, particularly for 12 years in Metro District Maintenance Operations. During her tenure there, due to noticed trends in injuries that were preventable that front line field workers were experiencing and the awareness of other businesses’ success in accident reduction, she instituted a daily stretching program that had been developed and implemented by the St. Cloud District of MnDOT. In a short time, a drop in workplace injuries resulting in workers compensation claims was seen.
When Beverly began working at Public Works, it became clear that the work done by the field employees here was equally tough on people’s bodies. The Department cares about its employees and wanted to be able to send them home each day with their body in at least the same condition as when they came to work. Knowing the amount of time a stretching program would involve and weighing the pros and cons, a mandatory stretching program was instituted throughout Public Works. Each day, the stretching program begins promptly at the beginning of each division’s shift. Everybody (except those with documented medical limitations) must participate. Office workers are invited to join as well. It takes about 12 -14 minutes to complete all the stretches.
The feedback on the program has been mostly positive. Employees are reporting feeling better. Since the program starts promptly at the exact beginning of the shift, it also encourages employees to be ready to go for announcements and assignments at that time. Before or after that, a lot of chatting goes on among the employees too while doing their stretching, and there is a sense of community building as a side benefit. Some employees also voluntarily stretch again after lunch. As the program has been rolling out over time, there will be an opportunity to review trends in workers compensation injuries but Bev notes that it is not possible to measure events or injuries that do not occur. The investment of time into employees’ wellbeing is the right thing to do and a wise long-term investment.