Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are enormously costly to companies. Direct costs come in at $20 billion per year, while total costs are estimated between $45 to $54 billion. This does not even quantify the other mental and physical effects on the estimated 600,000 people who are involved in these serious injuries, nor does it account for the countless others who don’t actually file a claim and who may become dissatisfied with their job. It’s telling that 33% of all worker injury and illness compensation costs are due to MSDs. The cost to workers and to companies is extraordinarily high.
When companies have employees with MSDs, the cost to the company, besides the actual pain caused to the valued employee, is not simply compensation costs. Opportunity cost, or downtime, that results from employees being unable to work is an even bigger concern. Missed work by vital employees, or those with very specific skills, may mean that work gets done at a slower rate, or simply not at all. This means less production, and ultimately less revenue for organizations. For example, it is estimated that if your company loses $264,434 to MSDs, you will have to make $8,818,466 to draw even. You can get a general estimate for the overall cost to your company with OSHA’s injury/cost estimator.
Why do MSDs occur within organizations? Most likely this occurs because either an insufficient ergonomic process is in place, or no ergonomic process is in place at all. The way in which someone moves, pushes, or pulls an object; the amount of weight they’re moving; and how often material is moved are all factors in physical work exposures.
Having an ergonomic plan/process is a hugely important component of any organization. It literally allows you to invest in your company with huge return on investment, possibly more than any aspect of your company. As noted above, you have to pay $8,818,466 for direct losses of $264,434. When looked at from the opposite perspective, this would be a 34X return on investment if the injuries could be prevented. An investment in your ergonomic process is a guaranteed win for your company. Employees will get injured without one. The statistics bear this out.
A huge part of your ergonomic plan should include the proper gear, such as ergonomic casters, but also the appropriate guidelines to prevent injuries and measure thresholds. If these thresholds are wrong, then you will almost undoubtedly find that your employees are still injuring themselves.
Because we visit companies more or less daily, we understand how important ergonomics is to companies but, more importantly, to the men and women who might be seriously injured. We at Caster Connection want the best information available to all companies. We want you to succeed and thrive and want real people who are working hard each day to continue living healthy lives.
For this reason, Caster Connection is collaborating with The Ohio State University Spine Research Institute (SRI) to once and for all establish a “gold standard” for push/pull testing for any organization, in any industry. This collaboration is taking place within the NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) Ohio State University’s MSD Prevention Site. These efforts will focus on developing measurement guidelines that more closely equate the SRI push/pull guidelines. These guidelines will reduce variability in hand forces measured by hand transducers. As of right now, many factors affect accurate and consistent measurement results. These factors could include (but are not limited to) cart acceleration, force gauge accessories, straight/perpendicular wheels, flooring surface, etc. These new guidelines will benefit practitioners as they attempt to estimate the biomechanical risk associated with a particular push/pull task and will allow for the most high-risk push/pull tasks to be redesigned more effectively.
Through proper guidelines, information, and equipment, we can dramatically reduce MSDs in the workplace. They do no one any good. They cost companies incredible amounts of money, and they impact people’s lives and happiness through mental and physical stress. Let’s eliminate MSDs together!
We’ve applied the insight we’ve gained from our collaboration with the Ohio State University Spine Research Institute and our 30 plus years in the caster industry. See how you can move to the next level in your ergonomic process.