In-Depth Look: Athletic Trainer Who Practices in an Industrial Setting
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Heather Koster MS, ATC, CEAS ll practices in an industrial setting as an injury prevention specialist for Amazon. She has practiced as an Athletic Trainer (AT) for 10 years and been with Amazon for the last two years.
Describe your setting:
I am currently employed at Amazon in the Windsor, Conn. fulfillment center while getting ready to open a new fulfillment center in North Haven. At Amazon, the safety of its employees and workplaces is a top priority. As such, the company launched an injury prevention program, the purpose of which is to provide associates with exercises and guidance to prevent injuries and to provide recommendations to enhance safety and ergonomics across workstations.
The program is a proactive measure to enhance safety on-site and to maintain compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Act. I assess risk factors and reduce the risk of injuries to Amazon associates. Amazon has more than 60 ATs working for them in this program nationwide.
Describe your typical day:
At Amazon it is always “Day One.” That being said, my days are never the same and that is something that excites me about what I do. I focus on four key aspects of ergonomics in the industrial setting. The first being education. I coach associates on the floor in their station as well as on preventative measures in our Preventative Care Area with stretching and foam rolling. In addition to education, we work heavily on station design and modification. We take on the role of change managers, adding better ergonomics to workstations.In the event an injury was to occur, I assist the first aid provider in treatment plans as well as data dive to focus my engagements. Lastly, we promote safety and health through different campaigns, creating a fun work environment.
What do you like about your position?
I love meeting new people and learning more about them. Each day I get to work alongside Amazon associates and help improve their lives, both at work and at home, by focusing on ergonomics and overall health. I also have the privilege of onboarding, training and teaching newly hired ATs about the injury prevention program and setting them up for success at their sites.
What is your greatest achievement as an Athletic Trainer?
My greatest achievement as an AT is practicing in the industrial setting. I was surprised recently to learn how low the percentage is of ATs who practice in the industrial setting. It makes me proud to be contributing to the awareness of this profession in a unique setting.
What advice do you have about your practice setting for a young AT looking at this setting?
The coursework provided in athletic training programs does not typically expose future ATs to the industrial setting. Looking outside of a typical college setting and taking on courses in environmental health and safety or industry standard can open a lot of doors and opportunities that are not typically highlighted. One of the first courses I took when I was hired at Amazon was the Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist. It helped a lot to understand the different perspectives we would be looking at and tools we use in the industrial setting versus a more traditional setting.