Every dollar invested in an ergonomics program results in a savings of $4. That’s the astounding finding of a recent study on the cost effectiveness of implementing ergonomics programs in U.S. manufacturing and business settings.

In the past, many companies didn’t initiate ergonomic programs until forced to do so in response to workers’ compensation claims. The expense associated with claims coupled with the responsibility to eliminate hazardous work conditions forced companies to implement solutions to address ergonomics issues. But acting after the fact only prolongs the agony, pointed out Mike Kind, writing for the New Hampshire Business Review. “As claims are filed, an organization’s workers’ compensation premium increases immediately upon renewal. It then takes a three-year history of reductions in claims for the rate to drop.”

Proactively implementing an ergonomics program may not eliminate every future workplace injury, but the use of ergonomically-designed equipment and the introduction of ergonomic practices has been shown time and again to significantly reduce workplace injuries and their associated costs. In most cases, the cost of ergonomics equipment is recouped within the first year.

As an example, Kind cited a highly computerized operation in which more than half of the employees reported musculoskeletal disorders during their first year on the job. Implementation of an aggressive ergonomics program, including new equipment, procedures and training, resulted in an overall 50% decrease in worker complaints.

Proactive implementation of ergonomics initiatives impacts your bottom line immediately and positively.  “In one client research study, it was determined that for every dollar invested in an ergonomics program, $4 in cost savings were achieved,” Kind said. Reduction of worker injury results in significant savings in direct medical costs, insurance and workers’ compensation premiums. Lost work-hours due to doctors’ appointments, physical therapy sessions, sick days and absenteeism decrease. As employee safety and well-being improve, workplace morale increases, bringing with it a healthy work environment, increased productivity and improved customer service.

Creating a successful ergonomics program hinges on three important elements, Kind said:

  • Support of top management and inclusion in the corporate culture 
  • Establish goals and measure results
  • Provide effective education, training and leadership

Next time: Tips for creating a successful ergonomics program