- Work induced injuries are a growing concern globally, a study of insurance firm Liberty Mutual reported work-related musculoskeletal disorders to cost employers up to US$13.4 billion annually.
- Employers can offer workplace equipment and furniture to work from home employees, training modules, related intiatives and more to help with employee health and safety.
- Employees can also do regular exercise, sit in proper posture and more to avoid sustaining chronic injuries
As the future of work has changed indefinitely due to the ongoing pandemic, more and more businesses are looking at a hybrid work model to ensure employees safety.
Addressing the issues of poor ergonomics has thus become an important and wider challenge for employers. Additionally, it has also called into attention the need for ensuing employees health across different areas such as at the home, office or any remote location. Poor ergonomics is also one of the leading causes of missing workdays or restricted working hours of the workforce.
Work related injuries
One of the primary risk factors of poor ergonomics is work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). MSDs can impact one’s muscles, nerves, blood vessels and more, which in turn can cause chronic injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, muscle strains, low back injuries and more.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the US, MSD’s account for 33% of worker injury cases in the US. However, this phenomenon extends globally.
Moreover, according to insurance company Liberty Mutual, MSD cost employers up to US$13.4 billion annually and an estimated US $54 billion accounts for the economic fallout from work-related MSDs.
Recently, e-commerce giant Amazon announced US$ 12 million workplace injury initiative, in grouping with a nonprofit body, the National Safety Council, to reduce common injuries such as MSDs, or any other injuries involving muscles, joints and other body parts in the workplace. It also aims to conduct more research to help reduce the occurrence of these such chronic injuries.
What can employers and employees do?
Some measure that employers can take to help address this challenge is by outfitting offices with ergonomically developed work furniture, which keeps in mind an employee’s desk height, having the computer at the right distance and height for the user and more.
Employers should also offer learning modules and initiatives to increase awareness of ergonomic principles to employees, offer for work from home office equipment and furniture and more, to help support employee safety and wellness.
In addition to the above initiatives, companies must ensure ongoing manager support, employee participation to assess workplace conditions, setting up a system to ensure early detection of injuries, and accordingly review and make any ergonomic changes necessary to the workplace.
Some jobs, which include doing repeated tasks, lots of push and pull motion, awkward postures, bending over and more, can lead a worker to be at a higher risk to develop a workplace injury.
Meanwhile, employees can also improve their health by sitting in a proper posture, avoid sitting for long stretches of time and taking frequent breaks to move around, do frequent exercise to strengthen the lower back and more. Furthermore, regular chiropractic care can also help with managing such chronic injuries in the workplace.