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by Blake McGowan, CPE

illustration of a person stretchingIn this month’s e-newsletter, I explained how many health and safety professionals underestimate the cost of site-wide workplace stretching programs. Here’s a way to calculate the cost of your organization’s stretching program.

Step 1:  Calculate the recommended workplace stretching activity time (in minutes) per week (Equation 1), based on the following guidelines recommended by the American College of Sport Medicine:

  • Warm up for 5 minutes, minimum, prior to stretching
  • Tailor exercises to commonly performed job duties
  • Stretch regularly, minimum 2 to 3 days per week
  • Perform stretches correctly:
  • Use static or PNF stretches
  • Hold stretch 10 to 30 seconds
  • Repeat 3 to 4 times per muscle group
  • Stretch bilaterally, emphasizing tight muscles
  • Stretch to mild level of discomfort only
  • Have only trained instructors lead or monitor classes
  • Monitor compliance
  • Stretch at appropriate work times throughout the day
  • Company must be committed to work time and program overhead costs
Equation 1
Recommended Workplace Stretching Activity Time per Week (minutes) = (Warm-up Time + (Number of Muscle Groups x Duration of Stretch x Repetitions per Muscle Group)) x Number of Times per Week

Step 2:  Calculate the low-end estimate (Equation 1a) and high-end estimate (Equation 1b) for the recommended workplace stretching activity time per week (in minutes).

Equation 1a (Low End)
Recommended Workplace Stretching Activity Time per Week (minutes) = (5 minutes + (8 x 0.167 minute x 3)) x 2  =  18 minutes
Equation 1b (High End)
Recommended Workplace Stretching Activity Time per Week (minutes) = (5 minutes + (8 x 0.5 minute x 4)) x 3  =  63 minutes

Step 3:  Calculate the range of costs (low and high end).

Based on the calculations in steps 1 and 2, workplace stretching activities account for 18 to 63 minutes of employee work time per week. During the calendar year, this accounts for 15.6 to 54.6 hours per employee. If we choose a reasonable burdened labor cost per employee of $25 per hour, this costs $390 to $1,365 per employee per year. If the site-wide, workplace stretching program is deployed at a medium-sized manufacturing facility (i.e., 1,000 manufacturing employees, spread equally over 3 shifts), the annual costs of the stretching program will range between $390,000 and $1,365,000.

Step 4 (if necessary): In addition to these (salary) costs, calculate the potential for lost revenue (in dollars) if production is discontinued during the stretching activities (Equation 2).

Equation 2
Lost Revenue (in dollars) = Recommended Workplace Stretching Activity Time per Year (hours) x Number of Workplace Employees x Production per Hour (units/hour) x Revenue per Unit.

Step 5 (if necessary): Calculate the potential for lost profit (Equation 3).

Equation 3
Lost Profit (in dollars) = Lost Revenue x Profit Margin

No matter how you add it up, workplace stretching programs represent significant non-value-added direct costs for an initiative with anecdotal and, at best, marginal results.