August 2018 Newsletter

Cost Benefits of Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the scientific discipline concerned with the interaction between the worker and the different elements of their system; for example, their computer or machinery and equipment. Employers understand the benefits ergonomics can have on their employees such as reduced injury rates and improved morale. However, the financial benefits to the business and the organization as a whole are sometimes overlooked.

Implementing a sustanable ergonomics program pays off quickly for a business. Here are just a few of the bonuses:

Reduced Claim Costs

In 2011, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) reported a high-impact claim such as a lower back injury can cost a company $33,000-$52,000 (WSIB Ontario, 2011). For something that may be preventable, this is a large amount of money, in both direct and indirect costs. When ergonomics is considered in the design and layout of a workstation/work area the workplace hazards that would potentially lead to this type of injury (e.g. awkward postures, force), can be minimized. The best way to approach this is to use your own injury data to determine average injury costs so that you can make the case for implementing change; if you can prevent one back injury for $33,000 then implementing a lift assist for $25,000 has a fast return on that investment.

Production Increases

When an employee can finish a job task faster, the company benefits financially. Makes sense, but what is the role of ergonomics in reducing cycle time? Simply put, ergonomic risk is increased by inefficiencies in a work process (e.g. multiple handling of an object, reaching beyond safe ranges, prolonged push/pull distances, over tightening with a tool). An ergonomic risk assessment is designed to evaluate risk and will identify inefficiencies and opportunities to ‘tighten up’ a process or redesign a workstation layout to reduce wasted movement.

Consider this example. You currently complete 30 parts per hour (i.e. 2 minutes per cycle). After implementing ergonomic change at this workstation, you manage to shave 15 seconds off each cycle. And now, ~35 parts are processed per hour, over an 8 hour shift you are making 40 more parts, getting an extra hour’s worth of production in the same time!

Quality Improvements

Employees who are in discomfort aren’t as attentive to what they should be doing – would you be? If you are in pain or discomfort while you are performing work you’re likely thinking about your discomfort intermittently which leads to distracted work and reduced quality. By making ergonomic change and reducing injury risk you should have workers that are better focused on the task at hand, improving quality of their output.

Improved Morale and Employee Satisfaction

A happy employee means a productive employee. And a productive employee means cost benefits and improved earnings for your business. Poor workplace culture often leads to unexpected expenses such as employee turnover; the hiring process, training costs, reduced production caused by inexperience and training and also loss of ‘experts’ means it makes sense to invest in keeping your original workforce happy and content. Ergonomic interventions are one way to do that, ask your staff about their challenges and concerns and take ergonomic action to improve their jobs. Sometimes small changes make a big difference in employee morale.

For any business, a positive Return on Investment (ROI) is key to improving the bottom line. And investment in ergonomic change can help any company, big or small, regardless of their industry, achieve this goal in many different ways.

Contact PROergonomics today to discuss how we can help your company improve your bottom line with a sustainable ergonomic program.

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