Last time we talked about the financial and production benefits of implementing an ergonomics program (see our Nov. 24 post). A recent study on the bottom-line value of ergonomics showed a $4 savings for every dollar invested. Most businesses that purchase ergonomic equipment recoup their investment costs within the first year. The financial benefits alone make ergonomic equipment a shrewd investment in your future. But forward-thinking businesses that investment in ergonomics understand that they are also making a powerful proactive investment in the health, safety and retention of their workforce.

Creation of a successful ergonomics program requires three important elements, Mike Kind wrote recently in the New Hampshire Business Review:

Support of top management. To be successful, an ergonomics initiative must become part of your corporate culture and be thoroughly embraced and supported by top management. The introduction of an ergonomics program can be an excellent step toward creating a wellness-based focus in your organization, notes Kind.

Other wellness-centered activities include offering wellness training classes, scheduling health screenings and flu shots, providing healthier snacks and beverages in vending machines, sponsoring Weight-Watchers groups, offering gym membership discounts. Employers only stand to gain from sponsoring activities that promote a healthy workforce.

Established goals and measurable results. Any new initiative requires a bit of tweaking once it’s off the launch pad. Particularly in the early weeks of a launch, it’s important to conduct regular workplace assessments of a new ergonomics program to ensure that maximum efficiency and productivity are achieved. Close monitoring of employee complaints, injury reports, medical costs, workers’ compensation claims, absenteeism, lost man-hours and production results will provide the hard data needed to assess the success of your program and make any necessary changes.

Kind adds a word of caution: Don’t be surprised if you find an initial increase in incident reports. As employees learn about ergonomic issues, they are more likely to recognize the symptomatic causes of musculoskeletal complaints and report them. As your ergonomics program progresses and becomes an effective component of corporate culture, incidence reports will decrease significantly.

Next time we’ll discuss the importance of effective education, training and leadership in implementing a comprehensive ergonomics program in your workplace.