Whether you’re looking to reduce workers comp claims, minimize health care costs, or simply improve in the area of health and safety this year, start with ergonomics.
Ergonomics in the Workplace
Workplace ergonomics has emerged outside the traditional office environment and has integrated into areas including agriculture, manufacturing, and construction.
Ergonomics focuses on achieving an employee’s best fit for their work environment and job tasks. Simply put, it’s how an employee and their tools best work together in an optimal manner.
The key is creating the job to fit the specific worker so as work is completed it’s not only more efficient, it’s safer. Employees are not one size fits all.
Ergonomics generally include an employee’s physical workload, work condition, movement and posture, workplace design, repetitiveness, human-machine interaction, carrying and lifting, temperature, lighting, and noise.
Why Do Ergonomics Matter?
The body can experience stress, strain, and fatigue throughout the day. Common risk factors include moving, bending, standing, lifting, reaching, and stretching- often improperly.
Although these risks may not result in an immediate injury, minor nuances in these areas can take root and begin to grow into a problem.
Time, improper mechanics, and repetitiveness are the perfect storm that results in symptoms of a growing musculoskeletal disorder (MSD).
Musculoskeletal disorders are conditions that affect the body’s joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves. Prominent MSD symptoms emerge as discomfort, fatigue, and pain involving many areas including the neck, back, shoulders, hands, and knees- particularly in labor-intensive environments.
It’s no surprise that musculoskeletal disorders account for the majority of workplace injuries. OSHA found on average that $1 of every $3 spent on workers’ compensation comes from insufficient ergonomics.
Benefits of Workplace Ergonomics
How beneficial can an ergonomic plan be? Consider this:
1. Cost Savings
Deep savings can be achieved when you reduce ergonomic risk factors, stopping them from evolving into a full-blown musculoskeletal injury. Benjamin Franklin said it best, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Workplace ergonomics cost savings can be found across the board:
- Reduced workers compensation costs
- Lower costs per claim
- Lower labor costs
- Lower Incidence rate
- Reduced restricted days and lost workdays
- Fewer musculoskeletal disorders
2. Increased Productivity
Let’s face it, we do our best when we feel our best. As an employee, there is no exception. Employees who are physically comfortable and feel well work better and are happier, more efficient, and experience better energy. Let’s not forget it also promotes a better quality of productive work (and with fewer potentially costly mistakes!)
A proactive ergonomics program not only lowers MSD risk factors but removes the very barriers to high productivity when properly executed.
Rather than an employee who is distracted by aches and pains, they are focused and achieving their best work more consistently - which equates to greater job satisfaction.
3. Increased Engagement and Safety Culture
Employees feel valued and safe when they see their employer actively engaged in health and safety measures. With fewer employees experiencing pains, strains, and injuries you’ll see engagement increase because of fewer missed workdays and less turnover- both of which severely deplete morale among teams. Higher engaged employees are more likely to participate and promote health and safety processes among their team and company.
The Impact of an Onsite MSD Expert
It’s not enough to have ergonomic standards and practices in place. Any great ergonomics program requires the right tools and resources to ensure your employee’s daily work moves forward in a safe and healthy manner.
We know that most work injuries can be prevented with the help of proper ergonomic implementation. MSD experts (we call them Physical Therapists) are an invaluable resource when it comes to helping your company preserve its biggest asset - people.
An onsite PT can effectively reduce a company’s overall risk of injury by identifying discrepancies across a variety of work areas and environments. Working proactively with your company, a physical therapist can quickly assess and mitigate ergonomic concerns as well as early aches and pains before they become costly injuries.
If you’ve wondered what it’s like to have a physical therapist on-site, check out our blog A Typical Morning with An Onsite Physical Therapist.