Think it will cost your business a lot to make it more ergonomic for employees? While it’s true that some ergonomic accommodations have a cost associated with them, not making these changes has a significantly higher pricetag.

Businesses that don’t think about ergonomics lose money through increased employee absenteeism, employees that are less productive because of physical and mental discomfort, and spend more time and money on recruitment and retraining because of unhappy and uncomfortable employees seeking employment elsewhere.

In ‘The Case for Ergonomics,’ managing consultant Blake McGowan of Humantech Inc. writes that “Poor ergonomics can lead to substantial social and financial consequences, which, oddly enough, do not always convince business stakeholders of the value of ergonomics.”

He notes that in the United States upper-extremity musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and low-back pain are the most prominent occupational injuries, accounting for 31 per cent of all occupational injuries.

What causes workplace injuries?

MSDs are the result of awkward postures, sustained exertions, high frequencies, vibration, and forceful exertions. With proper use of ergonomics, these types of injuries, including overexertion (manual lifting, lowering, pushing, pulling, carrying, and throwing), which account for approximately 23 per cent of all occupational injuries, can be dramatically reduced.

Making ergonomic improvements provides benefits, including a reduction in injury and illness rates and improved employee retention and engagement, occurring from:

  • Safety performance
  • Employee morale
  • Product quality (reduced products defects)
  • Productivity (better manufacturing performance)

Research shows that proper ergonomics design and intervention can result in:

  • reducing MSDs 51 to 63 per cent
  • lowering incidence rates by 45 to 69 per cent
  • decreasing workers’ compensation claims 60 to 74 per cent
  • reducing lost workdays 65 to 79 per cent
  • reducing employee turnover 23 to 49 per cent
  • decreasing first aid cases by 35 per cent
  • decreasing modified-duty cases by 50 per cent

How does focusing on workplace ergonomics save money?

Dr. Christine Maxwell, medical director for J.P. Griffin Group, writes in ‘How Incorporating Ergonomics in the Workplace Can Save Employers Money’ that in 2015, according to the The Bureau of Labor Statistics , American workers were absent from their jobs for 1,153,490 days due to work-related injuries. “Ergonomic improvements have numerous workplace benefits and can be a useful healthcare strategy that can save employers money.

“Why wait until situations become problematic to change your office design or introduce furnishings that may prevent injury? Considering the wide variety of ergonomic office furnishings and accessories available, offering solutions to improve comfort, safety, and employee satisfaction makes financial sense,” she writes.

“A redesign initiative may require a modest financial commitment, but when compared to the total cost of workplace injuries and absenteeism, doesn’t it make sense to think of ergonomics as an investment rather than an expenditure?”

Velsoft’s Workplace Ergonomics for Injury Prevention course can help employers learn how to focus on ergonomics and implement improvements to help employees feel their best and do their best work.

We’ve recently refreshed the course to include updated figures, along with changing the course from two days to one in order to make it more accessible to as many businesses as possible. Other changes include adding a session on increasing movement to prevent injury, several new activities and a new icebreaker. The course still includes a case study activity in which learners look at a fictional company and identify ergonomic hazards and find solutions.

Trainers: This is an important issue for employers. Get the new and improved Workplace Ergonomics for Injury Prevention courseware today, and start offering training that will make a noticeable difference in people’s work lives, while improving your bottom line and theirs.