Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are one of the most common types of injuries that occur in most industries. MSDs on average account for up to 75% of workplace recordable injuries. In order to reduce the injury rate and related expenses, companies should focus on methods to reduce and/or prevent MSDs. There are essentially 5 different approaches to managing MSDs. Listed from least effective to most effective, they are:
1. Repair the person—manage the injury and recovery of the person
2. Match the person to the job—fit the person to the task(s)
3. Modify the person—stretching and wellness programs
4. Modify the person’s techniques and performance—behavior based methods
5. Modify the workplace and how the work gets done—ergonomics and lean!
Ergonomics is the most effective approach for reducing and preventing MSDs. Change the design and how the work gets done will result in not only short term improvement but those improvements will be sustainable over time.
Successful companies establish an ergonomics program that is embedded in their daily processes and procedures and normal business operating methods. They are proactive in identifying MSD risk factors and implementing changes to mitigate them, which includes funding and involvement of employees into the improvement process. The investment in equipment and process changes will pay off.
Let me delineate just a few of the benefits of the Ergonomic Approach:
• Risk factors are identified and addressed before injury and loss happens
• Workplace engineering controls are sustainable and reliable (don’t depend on “good” employee behavior
• Involving employees in the improvement process increases morale and buy-in of the changes
• The value and ROI is typically significantly higher than the costs of MSD injuries and claims (despite associated capital costs related to the engineering controls)
There are certainly more reasons that justify the integrating ergonomics into the SOP of companies (productivity, efficiency, quality…) that are not covered in this blog. To learn more about how ergonomics and lean will lower your injury rate and costs but also significantly improve the efficiency of your operations, please contact us.