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Workplace Ergonomics - An Essential Ingredient for Employee Comfort and Health

Rationale:

Global prevalence--Workplace Musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) are painful injuries affecting muscles, joints, bones and, ligaments or other tissues in the limbs or back. Such injuries affect 1.9 million Americans every year, and over one-quarter of these injuries occur in the workplace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2012, MSDs accounted for 34 percent of all work-related injuries and illnesses, costing employers more than $20 billion in workers’ compensation costs, medical expenses, missed workdays, decreased productivity, and hiring of replacement staff.

Indian Prevalence—

Prevalence in India-- 75-78% of professionals in India report Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders.

WHAT HAPPENS IF A WORKER CONTINUES WORKING IN SPITE OF BEING IN PAIN?

Published studies have shown a documented loss of up to US$ 50,000 per worker in terms of loss of productivity, absenteeism, and cost of hiring and training fresh recruits.

Employees working in organizations that do not provide effective on-site services to address WRMSD spend at least 2-3 hours daily to visit a hospital or clinic. This time usually comes out of the usual working hours since medical services are rarely available by the time the employee reaches home.

 

Direct Cost

Indirect Cost

1

Workers compensation & Disability

Loss of Goodwill & Lower Morale

2

Lost work time

The inefficiency cost of restricted work

3

Medical claims

Hiring & Training replacement

4

Insurance Premiums

Overtime to other employees because of injury

5

Litigation & Fine

Administrative costs

 6

 

Costs arising from violation/injury investigation/follow up

For every $1 expended on Direct Costs and an additional $4 is expended on Indirect Costs*. OSHA estimates 100% return on investment for preventive ergonomics over a 20 month payback period for most solutions.

The common prevalence of work-related MSD reported during the last few years based on their body region were neck (29.56%), lower back (22.89%), shoulders (12.17%) and knees (9.56%). There was a statistically significant difference in terms of gender, regular exercise, more than 5 working days per week, more than eight hours of work per day and habit of taking lesser breaks during work hours at regular intervals. There were no statistically significant differences in terms of age, BMI and years of employment.

Ergonomic Interventions to Prevent Work related Musculoskeletal Disorders:

  • Onsite Detailed Ergonomic Evaluation – via
    • Assessment Questionnaire
    • Physical Examination by medical expert
  • Conduct Ergonomic Awareness sessions & communication campaign around the same through lecture seminars, handouts, mailers, & videos.
  • Periodic Ergonomic education on workplace modifications, prevention of risk factor associated with WMSD and self-work Behaviour change.
  • On floor stretching exercises and good posture training.

Outcomes/Benefits of Workplace Ergonomics

  • Reduction in workplace injuries
  • Reduction in workplace musculoskeletal disorders
  • Increased productivity and profitability
  • Improved quality of output
  • Reduced liabilities
  • Increased efficiency
  • Recruiting and retaining quality workers from a shrinking talent pool
  • Reduced on-site absenteeism
  • Having healthier and happier workforce.
  • Positive employee engagement.

Author -

Dr. Nisha Nair—AVP—Health Risk Consulting

Experienced Healthcare and Wellness specialist with over a decade of experience in corporate health & wellness. Strong consulting professional skilled in Healthcare Management, wellness product development, corporate wellness strategy, client relationship management, wellness services delivery, strategic alliance management, vendor management & Operations Management.