7 Ways to Get to the Bottom of Ergonomics in Your Workplace



pic1Ergonomics is just not for factory environments anymore. It has been well-documented that almost any workplace can be outfitted with simple ergonomic solutions to make your employees more comfortable while working, and at the same time reduce your exposure for repetitive injury claims.



  1. Listen to your employees!

Nobody knows more about the difficulties of day-to-day tasks than employees working day after day, week after week, year after year. Listening to your employees about how to make their jobs easier is free. Involving them in workplace ergonomic solutions can also make them feel more involved, while at the same time improve morale which can lead to decreased claims and their associated costs. This can be as simple as lowering supplies stored overhead, raising work benches, making bins easier and lighter to handle, reinforcing handles on containers, and many other simple, inexpensive changes. Almost every employee will already have some ideas on how their work can be done easier and more productively by correcting a few issues in the workplace.(WCxKit)



  1. Use your Insurance Company’s Resources

The vast majority of insurance companies/TPAs have a loss-control consultant, or possibly an ergonomics specialist on staff. This may even be a free or low-cost service. Having specialists perform a workplace evaluation or to watch workers while they complete their tasks can lead to simple corrections in ergonomics. Since these individuals already do work with similar employers, they may already have simple fixes readily on hand. The feedback they produce can be priceless given their experience in your industry.



  1. Look at Your Work Comp Loss Run

Do you see any trends? Does one particular workstation produce more injuries than another? Look at the dates of hire on these claims, are these long-term employees getting injured or is it the newer employees that are getting injured due to lack of experience? Numbers and history will often speak for itself, and you can notice any injury trends according to department, hire date, workstation, etc., and this can create a “to-do list” for what you want to correct and how to correct it.



  1. Utilize an Outside Vendor

It is probable that you already work with a vendor or have your own contacts for medical case management. These vendors may have someone on staff or they will have a contact to give to you so you can set up an ergonomic assessment. If they do refer you, that particular company or individual has already gained their trust in providing quality work at a reasonable cost. Finding the right contact for this job is priority #1. A thorough evaluation can awaken you to hazards you did not know were lurking in the shadows. The cost associated with an ergomomics evaluation or with workstation adjustments will result in an overall cost savings versus paying for injured employees who are out of work.



  1. Ask your Medical Clinic for Advice

If you have an occupational clinic to which you send injured employees, it is probable they have a physician or ergonomic specialist on staff to assist you in your quest for ergonomic solutions. This will include a site visit and worker observation in their workplace environment. What better resource than a physician to take a look at the layout of your workspace and suggest corrections to common ergonomic problems? Plus, if they can’t recommend the exact solution, they can probably point you in the direction of someone who can, which leads to a quality contact for you, the employer. Consider using an on-site occupational clinic if you have many employees in one location or are in a remote workplace where medical care is not easily accessible.



  1. Think about the Pros and Cons of Adjustable Workstations

It is rare that all employees are of the same size and stature, but workstations are often all the same height and size. This presents an issue. If you have one receptionist who is 5’1” tall, and another who is 6’1”, a cubicle of standard issue may be too tall for one employee and too low for the other. Adjustable desks and chairs can provide a common solution to this problem. This way, when you have turnover or gain new employees through growth, you can automatically adjust these new workstations to the employee-specific requirement, making them more comfortable while working.



  1. If All Else Fails, use Known Vendors 

Big names in office supply furniture are up-to-date on new trends and advancements in workstation design and implementation. This can open the door to a resource from a place where you already order supplies and equipment. Many of these companies also collect feedback and opinions from their customers, so they can present you with positive and negative feedback on your potential purchases depending on your situation and needs. This prevents you from making a bad purchase and investing in bad capital. If you attend national conferences, such as RIMS Annual Conference in the Spring, you’ll find ergonomics resources in the Exhibit Hall.



In summary, ergonomic resolutions and improvements should not be overlooked no matter how long you have been in business. These corrections can lead to decreased injuries, which, in turn, provides a lower claim costs, less insurance costs, and a more profitable, safer company for you and your employees.


Author Rebecca Shafer
, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com.


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Do not use this information without independent verification. All state laws vary. You should consult with your insurance broker or agent about workers comp issues.


©2011 Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. If you would like permission to reprint this material, contact Info@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com


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