Every employer wants to reduce worker injuries, for human as well as financial reasons. One proven way to do that is by applying ergonomic solutions that lower the risk of on-the-job injuries. Do ergonomic solutions really work?
Jobs in many different settings and industries often require workers to:
Lift, carry, push and/or pull heavy loads
Assume awkward postures
Perform the same or similar tasks over and over
All these movements put your workers at risk for musculoskeletal disorders (injuries) or MSDs. That puts your company at risk for expensive workers’ comp claims. MSDs accounted for 33% of all worker injuries and illnesses in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Yet OSHA states that “Ergonomics --- fitting a job to a person --- helps lessen muscle fatigue, increases productivity and reduces the number and severity of work-related MSDs.”
What Ergonomic Solutions Work Best?
There are two types of ergonomic solutions:
Those that modify the workplace itself or the tools and equipment workers use
Those that modify the way employees interact with their work
Implementing ergonomic solutions can be well worth the effort. According to Assistant Secretary of Labor Dr. David Michaels, “Employers who invest in injury and illness prevention programs can expect significant cost savings in addition to reducing fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. Workplace safety is not only the right thing to do for your workers; it's the right thing to do for your business."
You can make a substantial investment. Or you can often find budget-conscious solutions that are just as effective. OSHA says employers can capture a 6XROI on every dollar spent on ergonomic solutions. Furthermore, there is also a “direct correlation” between corporate safety performance and productivity and profitability.
The Centers for Disease Control has published a series of studies and “simple solutions” recommendations for industries as diverse as construction, retail and mining. One of these is a healthcare industry report on lifting nursing home patients. It notes that investments in better ergonomic systems pay for themselves. You earn ROI through lower direct and indirect workers’ comp costs.
It’s clear that ergonomic solutions reduce work-related injuries. But it’s not the sort of thing you can just check off your to-do list. Applying the principles of ergonomics within your workplace is an ongoing, company-wide effort. The more committed you are to it, the greater the reductions you’ll see – in workers’ comp injuries and in costs.