Interview with an Occupational Health Physiotherapist

Alice is one of our Senior Occupational Health Physiotherapists and has provided on-site physiotherapy clinics for many of our customers over the last few years. Since August 2020 she has been the lead Occupational Health Physiotherapist at the Doncaster site for one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of piping systems and water management systems, Polypipe. She gave us a sneak peek into what an on-site Occupational Health Physiotherapy clinic is like.

What does a typical day at Polypipe look like?

There is no such thing as a ‘typical day’, especially in the current COVID-19 climate as things are ever-changing! I am fortunate to work with such a fantastic onsite Occupational Health team, which along with the back-office team at Sano has allowed us to stay onsite, treating colleagues face to face.

The day usually begins with a morning handover or briefing where we discuss the caseload for the day and any specific requirements. The clinic is often so varied, it is not only a treatment service. I see 10 colleagues a day, of which some will be MSK assessment and treatment, some will be looking at assessing fitness for work, or providing advice on amended duties and phased return to work plans and some may even be video consultations with colleagues that work within the company but are located 2-hours away. It is great that we can meet every employee’s need!

I have at times found myself spending time with colleagues in their working environments and more recently I had a go at pulling the ‘curtains’ back on a 40ft trailer and have been known to spend time in a HGV cab with a driver, advising them on posture. Understanding the tasks your patients have to do on a day-to-day basis is (in my opinion) the key to success.

What would you say one of your biggest challenges has been to date?

Being the lead physiotherapist on a Pilot study with a new customer is always challenging, with the aim to demonstrate what value the service adds. The early stages of a new service can be demanding with the influx of new patients and being introduced to a working environment that I am not familiar with. I am happy to say, that after 5 months I am now even confident with some aspects of plastics manufacturing and assembly!

Greatest achievement?

A few things stand out… I have recently collaborated with the OHA and onsite Health and Safety team to proactively assess working practices in a department where we were finding lots of MSK issues. We are hopeful this piece of work will have benefits to colleagues and will help to reduce the risk of MSK injury in that department. It has so far led to the introduction of new manual handling equipment and improved ergonomic working procedures, so the early results from this proactive work are good to see.

A more personal achievement for me was being told I had “changed someone’s life” (for the better). All good feedback is a testament to a job well done and I feel very fortunate to be able to help.

What makes Sano’s Occupational Health service different?

For me, the things that make us different is the dedicated team of staff who help implement and deliver the services. We play an active role in a colleague’s recovery, their return-to-work planning, personal goals and mental health wellbeing. We immerse ourselves in employee job roles and work closely with the teams on-site to make sure we deliver the best service possible, whilst proactively using the data we capture to target at-risk employees and department to minimise MSD’s and absenteeism.

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