Ergonomic injuries can affect all employees regardless of workplace environment or job tasks. In fact, ergonomic injuries are the most common form of injuries across all industries, which is why it is important to learn about the costs associated with those types of injuries and injury prevention strategies. All of this is to better protect our workers and save companies money.
The Cost of Ergonomic Injuries
Research indicates that employers pay almost $1 billion per week in workers’ compensation costs nationwide. According to the Department of Labor Statistics, 38% of workers’ compensation claims are due to musculoskeletal disorder or injury.
A musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) is an injury that affects the body’s movement or musculoskeletal system which includes the body’s muscles, tendons, ligaments, and discs. Of those MSD injuries reported, 68% are due to overexcretion and non-impact injuries such as strains, sprains, and tears. With proper ergonomic and body mechanics education, overexertion and repetition injuries are entirely preventable saving companies hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
Related: 3 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Musculoskeletal Injury
What Is the Most Common Ergonomic-Related Injury?
According to research from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, more than 80 percent of Americans will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. Additionally, in the United States alone, more than 31 million people experience lower back pain at any given time.
Lower back pain is the most common ergonomic injury in today’s work environments and can result in significant suffering for employees and big costs for the employer. A moderate lower back injury costs an average of $9,200 in direct and indirect workers’ compensation costs.
Other Examples of Ergonomic Injuries in the Workplace
Given ergonomic injuries are the most prevalent type of injury in the workplace today, it’s important to look at several of the most common injury types. Here are five more common ergo injuries.
2. Wrist/Carpel Tunnel
Wrist injuries including Carpel Tunnel Syndrome can be both minor or serious and may take months to fully recover from. Impacting 28 million Americans per year, a moderate wrist injury will cost a company, on average, $7,600 in direct and indirect workers’ compensation costs.
Related: When Can Carpal Tunnel Be Considered Work-Related?
Lateral epicondylitis, or better known as Tennis Elbow, is one of the most commonly diagnosed MSD injuries with more than 3% of the population suffering from the disorder. Described as a pain in the outer side of the elbow, tennis elbow impacts employee productivity and absenteeism. On average, a moderate injury to the elbow costs $9,100 in direct and indirect workers’ compensation costs.
Shoulder and rotator cuff injuries are common when bodies are regularly required to perform in an awkward or unnatural posture such as lifting or working overhead for an extended period. Shoulder injuries can be the second costliest of all ergonomic injuries with the average direct and indirect workers’ compensation costs being $14,800 for a moderate injury.
When an employee is required to hold their head in a non-neutral position for a period of time, neck injury and discomfort is likely to occur. Many workers don’t realize they are increasing their risk of neck injury simply by keeping computer monitors below eye level or looking overhead to complete a job task. A moderate neck injury is the most expensive ergonomic injury with the average cost of direct and indirect workers’ compensation costs being more than $21,000.
Sprains, strains, and tears are very common when it comes to ergonomic knee injuries. Force, repetition, and awkward postures are just a few of the reasons these injuries occur. The average direct and indirect workers’ compensation costs for a moderate knee injury are $11,700.
How Can Ergonomic Injuries Be Prevented?
The key to avoiding ergonomic injury is understanding proper body mechanics and listening to the body when it’s giving warning signs that an injury may be developing. When an employee understands how to find a neutral working posture and avoid putting themselves in awkward, ergonomically incorrect positions, they greatly reduce the risk of an injury occurring.
Additionally, employees need to learn to listen to their bodies and when they experience some discomfort or pain, they need to modify what they are doing – not push through. While the pain may mean that the injury has already occurred, knowing when to seek help about a discomfort can greatly reduce the severity of injury.
To learn more about how Briotix Health can help your employees reduce the risk of ergonomic injury, contact us today or request a demo from one of our ergonomic experts today.