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Why Is Ergonomics Important In The Workplace?

by Louise W. Rice
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Imagine a typical day at work. This looks vastly different for a variety of careers. Some workers, such as those in retail or food service, have to stand all day; by the end of a long shift, their feet and hips may be aching. Or take a standard office worker; working in a sedentary environment may not make your legs hurt, but at the end of an eight-hour day, your back and neck may end up cramped, and your eyes strained and exhausted from staring at a computer. An example of an ergonomic solution is using standing desks like the l-shaped standing desk.

 No matter what the job may be, there is always some kind of risk involved. And not effectively addressing these potential health and injury hazards can be detrimental not only for an individual worker but for a company overall. This is where ergonomics comes in. Ergonomics, or the study of how workers relate to their environment, is the most useful tool when it comes to adapting and improving workplaces. Whether you are an employee or an employer, utilizing ergonomics will be beneficial for various reasons. 

Benefits of Ergonomics

While ergonomics was created with the worker in mind, employers should use it to help not only their employees but also improve their company overall. Since ergonomics studies efficiency in the workplace, it only makes sense that applying these findings to work environments is valuable for companies overall.  According to the Washington State Dept. of Labor, ergonomics saves money by cutting worker costs, increasing productivity, and improving a product or service quality.

1.  Reduce enterprise cost

How exactly does it cut costs? By making workplaces safer and more efficient, companies can reduce the percentage of employees who will end up needing workers’ compensation or other financial assistance due to injuries at work. According to the 2007 Oregon OSHA reports, a typical worker’s compensation claim could total over $16,000 for direct costs- a number that jumps up to $32,000 when you factor in indirect costs as well. Fewer worker injuries also result in fewer employees taking sick leave for issues stemming from work-related health risks.

If employees are safe, comfortable, and taken care of, they will be more productive because they are working faster and more efficiently. Studies have shown that an employee who is given proper ergonomics in their work environment can increase their productivity by up to 25%. It also makes sense that an employee who is more productive and engaged at work will be producing a higher quality product or service, as well as make fewer errors in their work. 

2. Create a operates workplace smoothly

While money is obviously an important factor in a company’s success, the importance of using ergonomics doesn’t end with financial benefits. When workplaces are more comfortable, safe, and efficient for workers, they will naturally feel valued and appreciated by their employers. On average, employee turnover reduces by 48% when proper ergonomics are utilized in a workplace, and absenteeism reduces by up to 58%.

Safe work environments lead to employee longevity and stronger employee engagement, which helps to strengthen working relationships and the foundation of the company overall. By listening and improving workplaces via ergonomics, employers show their commitment to not only work safety but to their employees as well. 

As you can see, ergonomic benefits in the workplace go beyond simple physical improvement. A work environment with poor ergonomics is going to result in an employee that is not only in pain but stressed, unhappy, and even resentful of their job. By using ergonomics, companies not only improve their financial standing but also create a workplace that is stress-free, content and operates smoothly. 

Conclusion

While some employers may initially balk at the idea of spending money to improve their ergonomics, the bottom line is that ergonomics don’t have to be costly, and the initial investment of improving a workplace will save money in the long run. There are many cost-efficient solutions to ergonomic issues, like tilting a desk or table closer to the worker, so they don’t have to bend over or adding cushions and foam to chairs to improve lumbar and back support. You may also want to make a DIY standing desk. And while certain remedies may cost companies a little more money, like upgrading tools to have grip handles or adjustable lengths, that doesn’t mean the payoff isn’t worth it.

Ever heard the old adage ‘you have to spend money to make money? Even if a company must first spend money to help make a more ergonomically friendly workplace, making those changes and improvements is proven to save and even generate more revenue in the future. And aside from increasing revenue, proper ergonomics will help create a comfortable, productive, and stress-free workplace, giving employees a happy and safe environment and employers the peace of mind of knowing they are cultivating a profitable and ethically sound business.

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