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The Importance of Ergonomic Office Furniture
by Scott Shpak
Ergonomics has been a workplace buzz word for a generation, with the emphasis on correct posture and reduced muscle strain becoming an important worker health issue. This awareness has produced results. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that days lost from repetitive strain injuries dropped almost two full days per 10,000 workers between 2012 and 2013. Ergonomic improvements can offer a number of potential workplace benefits.
At first glance, an ergonomic initiative might seem expensive. After all, you're faced with a bill for new furnishings, equipment and accessories. However, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's "$afety Pays" program cost estimator reports a total of $31,511 in indirect costs that an employer could pay for one incident of carpal tunnel syndrome on the job. If your profit margin is 10 percent, you'll require additional sales of more than $300,000 to cover this amount.
Even when your current conditions don't increase the risk of injury, addressing ergonomics can bring gains in productivity. A study by the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries showed productivity gains as high as 15 percent when ergonomic styles of seating and other furniture were brought in. In the same study, an army engineering office reported a 20 percent increase in productivity after an ergonomic office re-design, and payback for the project took less than a year. Office Depot has great ergonomic options here.
Health and Safety
Changing the layout of workstations, varying chair and desk heights and other common ergonomic adjustments were once considered only after injury occurred. However, health and safety trends are moving towards preventing injury through ergonomic design. Your small or medium-sized business can benefit from the ergonomic design knowledge trickled down to the consumer level, such as with the range of ergonomic task furniture and ergonomic office chairs available on the market.
Those sharp, new chairs and other ergonomic improvements show your staff that you're serious about your commitment to their comfort and safety. You may see a reduction in missed days and reduced turnover, which can be indicators of staff morale. Employee involvement in ergonomics assessments further reinforces your efforts to empower your staff.
References & Resources
- • Bureau of Labor Statistics: Economic News Release—Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away From Work, 2013
- • Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Computer Workstations — Monitors
- • Occupational Safety & Health Administration: OSHA's $afety Pays Program — Estimated Costs of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses and Estimated Impact on a Company's Profitability Worksheet
- • Office Depot: Ergonomic Keyboards
- • Puget Sound Human Factors and Ergonomics Society: Examples of Costs and Benefits of Ergonomics
- • Occupational Health & Safety: Five Changing Trends in Managing Workplace Ergonomics
About the Author
Scott Shpak has over 20 years of experience as an operations manager in business, manufacturing and office settings, where he primarily oversaw health and safety procedures and human resources management. His work appears on top publications including Global Post.