A Bergen County employer who purchases new desk chairs for an entire office simultaneously may be doing employees and the company a favor. Workers forced to work in uncomfortable positions repeatedly or for lengthy periods often develop health problems. To companies, those problems mean preventable New Jersey workers’ compensation claims, worker absences and lost profits. You’ve probably heard about or used ergonomically-designed furniture or work tools, but what does that really mean? Ergonomic designers study how people work and strive to maximize comfort and safety in working environments, in a quest to boost worker productivity. The new chairs in your office are supposed to make work easier to do, which means more gets done for the company’s benefit.
When you hear about workplace injuries, accidents that happen suddenly often come to mind like slips or falls. In fact, a lot of injuries to the muscles and skeleton are caused by lifting, bending, sitting, turning, twisting and reaching over long periods. Carpal tunnel syndrome, for instance, can be the result of constant keyboard use day after day, year after year and sometimes decade after decade. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration found 50 employees were injured every 60 seconds during the regular workweek. Last year, 5,233 people suffered injuries in American workplaces. The average expense per injury was $20,000. Statistics like these have New Jersey employers thinking about ergonomic improvements. Businesses can change workplace environments based on observations of the way workers perform their jobs and reports of physical discomfort. Ergonomic changes facilitate work by de-stressing how jobs are done. Of course, employees often take different approaches to how they work. A new chair isn’t going to help a worker constantly slumped over a computer. Businesses can provide ergonomic education so employees can take it upon themselves to work in a safer, more comfortable way. The results are happier, healthier workers and profitable companies.
Source: Aviation Pros, “Ergonomics: Just a Big Word or Is There Real Benefit?” July 8, 2014.