Last week as a part of our Economics of Ergonomics series, we took a look at the high costs of poorly designed workspaces. This week, we’ll dive into just what you can do about poor design. We are going to focus on the interventions that offer the greatest ROI. An ergonomic intervention is a must! Without further adieu, here are the top 5 ergonomic interventions you should consider for your organization.
Ergonomic Intervention #1: Encourage Employees to Use Adjustable Desks
Over the past year, the news has been filled with strong evidence that sitting for long periods of time is terrible for human health. Unfortunately, even heavy exercise doesn’t do much to prevent problems from developing, including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. And that’s not even mentioning the wide range of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) sitting puts you at risk for as well.
Buying adjustable desks for your employees is a great way to mitigate this problem. It allows them to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. And we hope that’s airing more on the standing side of things). Standing is great because it engages the legs and the core, increasing muscle mass and keeping blood flow high. The body must constantly shift to maintain an upright position. This challenges muscles far more than a supported sitting position. Overall, buying a standing desk is a great preventative measure, sure to pay back the cost of purchase simply by lowering injury rates. And by doing so, this has a direct effect on worker productivity and absenteeism.
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Ergonomic Intervention #2: Doing an Ergonomic Audit
There are actually many ergonomic interventions that might be relevant to your business, but since each workplace and every worker is unique, it makes sense to do an ergonomic audit. An ergonomic audit will help determine which ones are right for you! And most importantly where you should direct your dollars. You might, for example, start with a general discomfort survey before doing a tour of the office with an ergonomic checklist. Alternatively, you could focus on Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) or Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs), or you could do a wider ergonomic needs analysis. The logic here is simple: you can’t fix a problem until you know what it is — or, rather, you could, but you’d be wasting a lot of money. So pick your audit, and drill down into the depths of the problem.
Ergonomic Intervention #3: Equipping Every Employee With an Ergonomic Keyboard
As we discussed in the previous article, workers compensation claims cost US companies as much as $20 billion annually. For office workers who spend all day typing on poorly designed keyboards, Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs) like carpal tunnel syndrome are a significant part of that. Ergonomic keyboards are a highly cost effective way to send RSI rates plummeting. In fact, buying one for each employee should cut down on new RSI diagnoses while also helping to alleviate the discomfort of employees who already have such injuries. They are a simple, immediate and efficient solution for alleviating pain and keeping productivity rates high.
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Ergonomic Intervention #4: Consulting Regularly With an Ergonomist
Paying for an ergonomist’s help is never a bad investment, as they have the expertise and the experience to propose a range of solutions to mitigate the unique challenges your workers face. An ergonomist is especially helpful during an ergonomic audit, but you’ll want to have them on hand to help train your employees on their new ergonomic equipment, and also to check in regularly to see how it’s all going. Again, this is a cost that’s definitely well worth it, as an ergonomist’s fees will ensure you’re getting the most out of your interventions. After all, there’s no use buying your employees ergonomic equipment if they’re not using it right!
Ergonomic Intervention #5: Offering Incentives to Employees
Last but not least, it can also be effective to offer employees incentives for good ergonomic habits — especially if you’re encountering resistance to proposed changes. This could be anything from discounted gym memberships and yoga classes to an office party once a certain level of compliance has been met. This will help get everyone on board, and it will keep them motivated as time goes on.
Ergonomic Intervention: The Takeaway
Good ergonomics makes a lot of sense from a health perspective, but it’s also great for your bottom line. Have you seen the economics of ergonomics in action? Let us know how in the comments below!