Ergonomics is a way of designing workstations, work practices, and work flow to accommodate the capabilities of workers. Ergonomic design reduces risk factors known to contribute to occupational ergonomic injuries and illnesses, such as sprains and strains and cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs).
If work is performed in awkward postures or with excessive effort, fatigue and discomfort may result. Under these conditions muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels can be damaged. Injuries of this type are known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
The increased rate and high cost of ergonomic injuries and illnesses such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and MSDs cut across all industries and occupations. Some of the hardest hit are manufacturing, retail, and service industries. Take a look at your OSHA 300 Log. You will probably notice that most (30%-50%) of your recordable injuries are somehow related to ergonomics.
MSDs can increase the cost of doing business both directly and indirectly. Direct costs may include medical services and higher workers' compensation premiums. The direct cost to close an ergonomic-related workers' compensation claim can average more than $9,000. Indirect costs from increased employee turnover, absenteeism, and retraining may also occur. Productivity, product quality, and employee morale may also suffer. Estimates indicate that the indirect costs associated with MSDs may be four to 10 times higher than the direct costs. Preventing and controlling ergonomic risk factors in the workplace often costs a fraction of what one such claim would cost. In smaller companies, one ergonomic-related claim can mean the difference between being above or below the profit margin.
OSHA and private consultants can provide customized presentations and training for groups and associations. An ergonomic consultation may include:
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