According to a 2013 survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) accounted for 33% of all worker injury and illness cases. MSDs cost businesses about $20 billion a year in direct costs (worker’s comp, medical payments, legal costs, etc.), and five times that much in indirect costs (loss of productivity, replacement training, absenteeism, etc.). That’s the bad news. The good news is work-related MSDs can be prevented.
MSDs affect the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons, and include such disorders as muscle strains, low back injuries, carpal and tarsal tunnel syndromes, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, epicondylitis (tennis elbow), and trigger finger. MSDs can affect workers in almost every industry and every occupation. They arise from exposure to various risk factors, including lifting heavy items, working in awkward body postures, and repetitive motions.
Ergonomics—the science of designing equipment to better fit the human body—can help lessen muscle fatigue, increase productivity, and reduce the number and severity of work-related MSDs.
As a successful facility manager, you will want to collaborate with your employees and tenants to include ergonomics in workplace designs and to provide adaptable and flexible environments that also meet production and safety objectives. To that end, here is a list of some ergonomic options you may want to make available.
- Adjustable desks and tables: The ability to raise or lower desks and tables is vital. Lower desks can allow for a body-neutral position to reduce typing injuries. If you can’t adjust the height of desks or tables, provide adjustable chairs to allow for proper alignment. For employees who want to stand at their workstation, a bar rail that allows the worker to rest his or her feet can reduces hip, knee, and foot fatigue.
- Keyboards and trays: Ergonomic keyboards are a must-have in today’s business world. Adjustable keyboard trays that slide in and out from underneath the desk or table are helpful as long as they allow the user to maintain neutral alignment of the wrist.
- Adjustable and easy-to-use chairs: The best chairs offer a suite of adjustable parts—seat pans, lumbar support, and armrests (that can also be removed). Neck rests are advisable for users who use multiple screens.
- Footrests: Angled footrests can prevent shorter workers’ feet from dangling and causing injuries.
- Phone devices: Headsets or speakerphones can minimize head and neck movement, allowing for extended phone use with concurrent keyboard operation.
- Floor surface: If workers must stand for long periods, an energy-absorbent floor surface can reduce worker fatigue.
Incorporating ergonomic design in to your facility will reduce injuries and improve efficiency for a win-win strategy. For more information on ergonomic design and products for your facility, contact Vanguard Resources.