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July 26, 2016

Ergonomics Pays : A Series On Lowering Costs in the Workplace : Ergonomics and Cost Efficiency

Prevention is better than cure

Although preventive health management in businesses is an ideal tool for driving down high healthcare costs, many companies have so far neglected this important area. Businesses are being slow to recognize that preventive activities can actually pay dividends within a short timeframe. Both small businesses and big multinationals often lack the essential know-how for putting preventive health management into action – and that includes ergonomics in the workplace.

The economic figures speak for themselves. The populations of many nations are getting proportionately older. As a result, there is a growing interest in helping the working population to  stay active and productive. Steps have been taken now to ensure the economy has enough healthy and productive working adults in the future.

There are numerous factors that influence health in the workplace. There is already existing data to show that there are financial benefits for companies that improve the ergonomic conditions of their working environments.

Preventive measures that pay off

Rolf Fricker, Vice President and Health Expert at Booz & Company, states “Our study shows that even by conservative estimates there is a direct benefit that far exceeds the average returns. Preventive health management helps companies to lower their costs and increase their productivity.”

As part of a regulatory cost-benefit analysis, a team of economists and ergonomists from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries evaluated data on existing ergonomic programs in the workplace. They found that the observed average reduction in number of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorder (WMSD) injuries was 50%, while the average reduction in WMSD costs was 64%. Individual control measures such as lift assists devices, workstation redesign, and tool redesign showed and average cost-benefit ratio of $29.00 for every $1.00 spent. [1]

[1] Richard W. Goggins, Peregrin Spielholz, Greg L. Nothstein. Estimating the effectiveness of ergonomics interventions through case studies: Implications for predictive cost-benefit analysis. Journal of Safety Research 39 (2008) 339-344.
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