Saving Money with Ergonomics

Did you know that in 2008:

Sprains or strains accounted for 39% of total injury or illness cases requiring days away from work.

Repetitive motion continued to be the event with the highest median days away from work with 18 days.

Workers who suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome required a median of 28 days to recuperate.

(Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008)

And that:

Each work-related injury that results in lost time costs businesses an average of $28,000 per year

(Source:  OSHA)

And also:

Every $1 of direct costs for injuries generated between $3 and $5 of indirect costs

(Source:  Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, 2003)

Sadly, work-related injuries continue to cause employees a lot of pain and employers a lot of money.  It’s important to make sure that employees are working in environments that are comfortable and well-fitting so that work-related injuries do not occur.  Once an injury becomes so severe an employee has to take time off work, both the employee and employer suffer.  Employees experience a loss of income, as well as pain and discomfort; and employers incur many costs.  These costs are not just direct costs like medical bills, but indirect costs like:

Overtime – for existing employees to cover the injured employee’s job;

Retraining – for new and existing employees to learn the injured employee’s job;

Extra administration time – paperwork for injury and new hires/temps;

Loss in productivity – new and existing workers trying to take care of a job they are not used to requires extra training and adjustment time;

Increased OSHA involvement – once a claim has been submitted to OSHA, the company will likely see more OSHA involvement at their company than before;

Lowered company reputation – a company that has employees off on injury frequently is not seen as a good place to work and signifies indifference on the side of the employer;

Decreased employee morale – employees facing the possibility of injury lose confidence;

High turnover – employees may not stay around if injury rates are high;

Insurance premium increases – workers compensation costs will go up.

But there is hope.  With proper ergonomics training and set up, scientific evidence has shown a reduction in work-related injuries (Source:  MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS AND THE WORKPLACE, Low Back and Upper Extremities, National Research Council [National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine], 2001).  And my next post will explain the Experience Modification Factor (X Mod) used by many Workers Compensation Boards as an incentive to reduce injuries.


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