5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Workplace Ergonomics

Did you know that work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) cost employers $15 to $20 billion annually in Workers’ Compensation costs? While that is a huge price tag, The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates it is only a fraction of the injury cost. They estimate that for every dollar a company spends on a workplace injury, they will spend up to five times that amount on other costs such as loss of productivity, rehiring, and retraining costs.

WMSDs can be called many things:  repetitive stress injuries, tennis elbow, cumulative trauma disorders, etc. One of the most commonly reported WMSDs is carpal tunnel syndrome, which carries work loss time of 31 days or more per employee. Names like “repetitive stress injury” clue us into the cause of so many common injuries; including force, repetition, recovery time, and posture.

American employees spend 40 hours per week sitting in front of a computer.  It’s certainly in the best interest of your company’s bottom-line and your employee’s health to prevent WMSDs from happening.  The good news is that employers can greatly reduce, and even eliminate, many of these workers compensation claims by focusing on ergonomics.  Ergonomics is the science of designing the job, equipment, and workplace in such a way to better fit the worker. This reduces workplace fatigue and discomfort, and reduces injuries.

Here are five easy ways to improve your workplace ergonomics:

    1. Invest in ergonomically designed chairs.  Chairs need to have good lower back support. Train your employees to maintain good posture while sitting by keeping their feet on the floor. Make sure chairs are adjusted to the correct height so the employee can maintain a 90-degree angle at their hips, knees, and ankles.
    2. Set up computer monitors correctly. The top of a computer monitor should be at eye level.  Center the monitor directly in front of you, about an arm’s length away. Keep workstations properly lit, and reduce glare from windows or other lighting sources. Enlarge font sizes or change color of monitor screen to reduce eye-strain.
    3. Train employees to use their mouse properly. Your computer mouse should be close to your keyboard and in easy reach. Use a mouse that fits comfortably in your hand. Use your elbow to move the mouse, not your wrist. Learn keyboard shortcuts, and use the lightest pressure possible to click. Keep in mind that the mouse controls can be adjusted to make it easier to use.
    4. Properly set up keyboard. Use an adjustable keyboard tray whenever possible. Keyboards should be placed just above the level of your lap. Keep your elbows at a 90-degree angle, and shoulders relaxed.
    5. Train employees to use proper body mechanics. Many companies overlook training their office employees on how to lift correctly, but even picking up one ream of paper incorrectly can cause an injury. Provide workplace safety training and encourage employees to take breaks from repetitive or forceful tasks. It’s important to change positions frequently–stand up, walk around, and stretch.

Use ergonomically designed equipment and train your employees on proper usage to reduce injuries, foster more productive and healthy employees, and lower workers’ compensation costs. Focus on ergonomics are a win-win for your company and your employees!

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