Ergonomic Assessment

Ergonomic issues remain one of the main causes of injuries and discomfort in the workplace, and are a leading cause of Workers’ Compensation claims. Here's some evidence.

the issue

One of our clients had several cases related to ergonomic issues. They asked Dimensions to perform ergonomic assessments for 67 complaints – 64 in employee office settings, 2 in manufacturing, and 1 in the lab area. Performing employee ergonomic assessments usually has an immediate and significant impact on comfort, productivity, and cost savings.

the goals

The goals were

  • To correct any ergonomic risk factors in order to ensure comfort,
  • To reduce the number of open cases and complaints, and
  • To implement a proactive approach to eliminate risks and injuries.

Ergonomic issues remain one of the main causes of injuries and discomfort in the workplace, and are a leading cause of Workers’ Compensation claims. Typically, employees seek an assessment when they have a concern, which is often a precursor to an actual musculoskeletal injury. With early ergonomic intervention most minor concerns subside and on follow up employees are pain free. At times additional equipment is needed, but often, simple changes drastically improve comfort.

the process

We partnered with human resources and safety to plan the assessments. The one step was to implement an ergonomic program to ensure early reporting, identifying risk factors, manage cases, and quickly respond to and correct ergonomic issues.

We then helped to establish an ergonomic team that would complete assessments in the future, contacting Dimensions for consultation.

At the same time, we scheduled the 67 assessments to correct the risk factors.

the outcome

All 67 ergonomic assessments were completed with 100% resolution of the complaints without further incident. The team was trained and continues to provide ergonomic services. A system remains in place to report complaints early and with a quick response, the case load for musculoskeletal issues has remained zero.

Estimated Cost Savings

The total cost for ergonomic equipment was $15,000, or an average of $223.88 per person.  Additional costs included, performing the assessments, ordering equipment when applicable, writing summary reports, and conducting follow-up. These additional costs amounted to approximately $10,050.00 or $150.00/person. The total estimated costs were $25,050 or $373.88 per ergonomic assessment.

In addition, consultation, program development, and train-the-trainer program equaled approximately $15,000 over 18 months.

The OSHA $afety Pays calculator was used to determine cost savings from preventing workplace injuries. The Cost of Injury program ($afety Pays) uses 1992-1994 statistics to calculate direct and indirect costs of work related injuries.

Employers can use the “$afety Pays” to assess the impact of occupational injuries and illnesses on their profitability. This program uses a company’s profit margin, the average costs of an injury or illness, and an indirect cost multiplier to project the amount of sales a company would need to generate to cover those costs. The program is intended as a tool to make upper management aware of the impact occupational injuries and illnesses have on company profitability, not to provide a detailed analysis of a particular company’s occupational injury and illness costs.

The $afety Pays calculator can be used for individual or multiple cases. In this instance it was used to determine savings for multiple cases. The categories of injuries considered were carpal tunnel syndrome and strains. The dollar amounts were similar regardless of the category.

If the ergonomic assessments had not been completed and the symptoms for all 67 cases were left unchecked, the estimated costs would be:

  • Direct Cost Savings: $2,165,373.00
  • Indirect Cost Savings: $2,381,850.00
  • Total Cost Savings: $4,547,223.00
  • Sales to Cover Costs: $79,397,000.00 (Automatic 3% profit margin)
  • Total Cost Avoidance: $83,944,223.00 or $1,252,898.85/case

Total Ergonomic Program Costs: ($25,050.00)

Total Direct and Indirect Potential Cost Avoidance: = $4,522,173

  • (Cost Avoidance $4,547,223 Minus Ergonomic Assessment Program Costs $25,050)

Per Person Potential Cost Avoidance:  $67,495.12/Person Assessed

ROI: $4,547,223/$25,050 = $181.53:$1; or $181.53 saved for every $1 spent

ROI including sales profits: $83,944,233/$25,050 = $3,351.1:$1

A Second Estimate

A more conservative estimate would be to only include 27 of the employees who had more significant complaints. Using this number, if the ergonomic assessments had not been completed and the symptoms for all 27 cases were left unchecked, the estimated costs would be:

  • Direct Cost Savings: $872,613.00
  • $959,850.00
  • Total Cost Savings: $1,832,463.00
  • Sales to Cover Costs: $31,995,810.00 (Automatic 3% profit margin)
  • Total Cost Avoidance: $33,828,273.00 or divided by 27 = $1,252,899.00/person

Total Ergonomic Program Costs: ($25,050.00)

Total Direct and Indirect Potential Cost Avoidance:

  • Cost Avoidance Minus Ergonomic Assessment Program Costs:  $1,832,463 – $25,050 = $1,807,413.00
  • Per Person Potential Cost Avoidance:  $26,976.31/Person Assessed

ROI:  $1,832,463/25,050 = $73.15:1 or $73.15 saved for every $1 spent not included sales profit margin

Values of Investments

In addition to costs avoided, the benefit of avoiding the pain and suffering to the employees and their families related to surgery and recovery are priceless. In addition, an Employee Satisfaction Survey found that employees were extremely satisfied with the program, their comfort level was high, and employees reported feeling better at the end of the day. Also, the Team attained useful skills and felt that they were making a difference in the workplace.