The introduction of ergonomics into the workplace was originally intended to be a proactive tool that was used to fit job to workers. This was accomplished through the implementation of good design principles in order to decrease the physical demands associated with a given job. While they are still utilized in this manner, ergonomic principles are now often applied in a reactive way following a workplace injury.
Unfortunately, this comes at a significant cost to the company. According to published research, the average cost of a single carpal tunnel injury is estimated to be almost $14,000 per claim in Ontario (Manktelow et al, 2004). In terms of overall direct and indirect costs, the Ontario Ministry of Labour estimated that the total average cost of a single lost time injury was approximately $85,200 per claim in 2007. Based on these figures, it is clear that implementing a strong, proactive ergonomics program can save companies significant money, even if it prevents just a single workplace injury.
Fortunately, these proactive programs do not need to be expensive or time-consuming. Simple education packages outlining ergonomic risk factors in the workplace and optimal body mechanics can provide employees with the knowledge required to recognize and avoid potential hazards before they arise. In addition, the completion of brief ergonomic assessments for office employees can have significant impacts in terms of recognizing and eliminating ergonomic risk factors before they result in workplace injuries.
Utilizing and applying ergonomic principles effectively is a great means to ensure that all employees remain productive, safe and healthy.