According to numerous studies conducted and published by the United States Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the leading cause of pain, suffering, and disability in American workplaces, accounting for 33% of all workers' compensation costs. The disheartening truth of that statistic is that with a little foresight, some planning, and a modest amount of training, almost all that wasted expense could be eliminated.
SEE: Ergonomics policy (Tech Pro Research)
According to OSHA, enterprise employees suffering from injuries related to MSDs require an average of 11 days away from work to recover. The average number of days to recover for all other injuries is only eight days, which translates to an increase of 38% in lost productivity. Depending on the enterprise and the work involved, that lost productivity could easily cost thousands of dollars and perhaps even millions. This is not a small problem and it should not be ignored by any business.
Check out the infographic from Ergonomics Plus for a look at these government MSD statistics.
To help further illustrate the cost of MSD-related injuries in the workplace, OSHA has developed the Estimated Costs of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses and Estimated Impact on a Company's Profitability Worksheet. This free tool will calculate how much more profit your enterprise will have to produce to cover the cost of an occupational injury or illness. A small $10,000 workers' compensation claim, for example, would require an enterprise with a 3% profit margin to generate at least $700,000 more in sales just to cover the cost.
Make a plan
Every enterprise, regardless of size, should have a plan for preventing workplace injuries and enforce it rigorously. TechRepublic's premium sister site, Tech Pro Research, offers a ready-made Ergonomics Policy to help you provide a safe and healthy work environment for employees, contractors, visitors, customers, and vendors, while also mitigating the risks involved with workplace-related injuries and illnesses.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.