Ergonomics is a catch-all term that often comes up in discussions about workplace health, safety and design—and for good reason. Employers who fail to implement ergonomic solutions at their place of business put their employees at risk of serious injuries.

When your employees perform tasks under the stress of an awkward posture, extreme temperature or repeated movement, their entire musculoskeletal system can be affected. This can lead to adverse symptoms like fatigue, discomfort and pain, which are the first signs of a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD).

MSDs are conditions that affect muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves. These conditions can develop over time or occur immediately when workers overload themselves. Direct costs of MSDs can be as high as $20 billion a year, with indirect costs (e.g., lost productivity and absenteeism) costing employers five times more.

Ensuring workstations and tasks are designed with ergonomics in mind does more than promote productivity. When employers invest in ergonomic workplaces, it:

  • Saves organizations money by reducing absenteeism, injuries and workers’ compensation claims
  • Creates happier employees, as workers feel valued when employers take steps to create a safe workplace
  • Contributes to employees’ long-term health and quality of life

While ergonomics can mean different things depending on the industry you operate in, the goal is the same: identify the ergonomics-related risks in your workplace and take steps to protect employees. This can be accomplished by establishing an ergonomics program.

An ergonomics program is systematic process for identifying, analyzing and controlling workplace risk factors, often created with the goal of reducing MSDs. In order to address ergonomics-related concerns, your program needs to identify the most common risk factors present in your workplace.

 

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