How Does Industrial Ergonomics Improve Productivity?
In this article, we will show a few examples of why it makes sense to invest in ergonomics. We'll talk about how proper workplace ergonomics improves the well-being and motivation of employees and how it can at the same time save money and improve productivity. You'll get valuable insights into the benefits of ergonomics for employers and employees.
Occupational musculoskeletal disorders caused by poorly designed working methods and working postures not only cause physical strain to employees, but also burden companies and society as a whole through sick leave, incapacity for work, and decreased productivity.
Industrial Ergonomics Promotes Well-being and Performance
An ergonomic workstation enables employees to perform at their best, every day. Ergonomic working environments make performing one’s work effortless and safe. All the components and tools are within easy reach, which eliminates the need to bend the body or stretch the arms, which in turn reduces tension, strain, and discomfort. This helps prevent musculoskeletal disorders, which affect up to three out of five working-aged people.
Reasons to Invest in Ergonomics
In the long term, there are several issues related to efficiency, safety and productivity that are positively affected by proper ergonomics.
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) affect most employees
According to European Agency for Safety and Health at Work musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the single largest occupational health hazard in Europe: up to three out of five employees report musculoskeletal symptoms. In addition, Confederation of Finnish Industries has reported that employees in the industrial sector have the most absences due to sickness, on average 16 working days per person/year.
Proper ergonomics can reduce MSD-related absences as much as 72%
A study made on estimating the effectiveness of ergonomics interventions revealed that musculoskeletal symptoms and disorders were reduced 57% and absences due to MSDs reduced 72% as a result of measures that improve ergonomics. (Source: Goggins, R. W., et al. 2008. Estimating the effectiveness of ergonomics interventions through case studies: Implications for predictive cost-benefit analysis. Journal of Safety Research)
Productivity improved 46% resulting in significant annual savings
The above mentioned study on the effectiveness of ergonomics interventions concluded that productivity improved 46% through measures that improved ergonomics. All these are rather impressive figures.
How does proper industrial ergonomics save money?
Let’s calculate this out through one example (source for calculations: Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company: Absence calculator):
- A company of 200 industrial employees
- 16 sickness absence days per employee
- That means in total 3200 absence days (absence percentage 7.08%)
- That turns into 1 500 000 € in total cost of absence (when cost of absence includes indirect costs, non-wages labor costs and salary cost).
- If sickness absences decrease even by 10% (7.08% > 6.37%), annual cost savings are more than 150,000 € (when cost of absence includes indirect costs, non-wages labor costs and salary cost).
- If sickness absences decrease with 72%, as did in the study mentioned above, annual cost savings are more than 1 M€ (when cost of absence includes indirect costs, non-wages labor costs and salary cost).
6 ways to improve the workplace ergonomics
Learn six practical ways to improve the ergonomics in your workplace.
Benefits of industrial ergonomics for the employee and employer
The benefits of proper ergonomics are both for the employer and for the employee.
- Improves occupational safety and reduces sickness absence
- Improves employees’ performance
- Reduces occupational health care costs
- Increases productivity and efficiency
- Motivates and engages employees
- Improves health and well-being
- Promotes the ability to work
- Has a positive effect on ability to function during leisure time
- More satisfaction for the work
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Increasing productivity with proper ergonomics