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Workplace Ergonomics Injuries: A Multibillion-Dollar Problem

Jun 16, 2015
A man suffering from back pain bends over grabbing his lower back

Part of the National Safety Council’s focus during National Safety Month 2015 is ergonomics, or how people can function most safely and effectively in their work environments. While employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace for their employees, work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) remain a significant cause of time off the job in numerous industries. MSDs (not to be confused with chemical material safety data sheets, known commonly as MSDSs) include common injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and other sprains and strains.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent data, in 2013 these types of injuries accounted for 380,600, or one-third, of days-away-from-work cases. Industries with the highest incidence rates included: transportation and warehousing, healthcare, entertainment/recreation, agriculture, construction, and manufacturing.

The BLS data also shows that workers suffering from ergonomics-related injuries required more time off the job than those with other types of workplace injuries and illnesses (a median of 11 days versus eight days). Statistics from OSHA reveal that related workers’ compensation expenses cost businesses $15 to $20 billion each year. What’s more, the Institute of Medicine estimates that the total annual economic burden resulting from workplace MSDs adds up to $45 to $54 billion.

Clearly, ergonomic injuries at work are a widespread, costly problem.

By putting an increased emphasis on ergonomics, employers can help ensure their workers stay safe, and in turn, avoid incurring the costs associated with employee productivity issues and time away from work due to injury. With the right training, management support and processes in place, employers can proactively identify and tackle ergonomic issues before they result in injuries.

To make sure you’re on top of these critical issues, consider registering for our related courses, which include information on the main elements of an Ergonomics Program based on OSHA industry guidelines and the NIOSH manual “Elements of Ergonomics Program,” as well as risk factors, common injuries, signs and symptoms, controls, and safe work practices:

  • Ergonomics for Supervisors
  • Ergonomics General
  • Additional courses on specific ergonomics-related issues are available, including Back Safety, Preventing Strains and Sprains, and Laboratory Safety – Ergonomics

Contact an MSDSonline Representative at 1.888.362.2007 to register for these courses or to learn more about our cloud-based Workplace Training solution, which makes it easy to assign relevant course topics to employees throughout your organization, track their success, generate course-completion certificates, and—if an OSHA inspector were to come knocking—serve as evidence of your training efforts.

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