What are the benefits of an ergonomics program?

Q:

What are the benefits of an ergonomics program?

A:

The benefits of implementing an ergonomic program range from an economic benefit by identifying and eliminating ergonomics related injuries to developing a robust safety culture by empowering employees to be engaged in the worksite ergonomic program. Some benefits are easily recognizable in cash savings while others are longer term results with savings from reduced employee turnover, increased worker loyalty, improvements in production, and other performance related improvements.

Below are a few key indicators identifying the benefits of an ergonomic program:

Reduction of Workers’ Compensation and Medical Costs

Identifying and eliminating ergonomic hazards and risk factors will prevent costly work related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Approximately $1 of every $3 in workers' compensation costs are attributed to MSDs. Keep in mind that workers' compensation insurance and claims are a direct cost to the employer. Indirect costs can be up to fifteen or twenty times the direct cost of a MSDs injury.


Improve Employee Moral

The best ergonomic solutions will often improve employee moral, which, in return, will improve productivity and quality. By designing a workstation that allows for good posture, less exertion, fewer motions, and better range of motion, the worker becomes more efficient and more satisfied with their job as it has been made easier from a physical standpoint.

Improves Employee Engagement

Employee participation is key in identifying ergonomic hazards and to calculate risk factors since they are performing the job task at the workstation. Employers should capitalize on employees being involved in the ergonomic program and seek their input. Employee engagement is an extremely valuable management practice that should not be overlooked or taken for granted. Hearing and learning from the workers to help resolve an issue can save time and expense if brought into the decision making process early.

Regulatory Compliance

Some states, such as California, require employers to have an established ergonomic program in place as compared to no such requirement under Federal OSHA. However, under Section 5(a)(1) of the OSHAct of 1970 states the following:

“Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.”

Therefore, any employer within federal OSHA jurisdiction has the potential of being cited for not having an ergonomic program in place.

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Written by John Hawes
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John Hawes is the CCO and co-founder at SureHire Occupational Health Testing. John graduated in 2001 from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy. As a former physical therapist, John uses his knowledge of physical therapy and interest in ergonomics and biomechanics to devise fit for work testing.

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