Why Hire an Ergonomics Consultant?
March 19, 2015
Anyone who has faced a budget can understand the staggering price of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Each year back injuries cost organizations about $100 billion.[i] When injuries occur, companies settle compensation claims but also suffer a slew of indirect costs, like lowered productivity and new employee training. A 1990 OSHA study found that these costs could be almost three times as high as direct costs. Furthermore, injuries erode worker morale, which can also curtail efficiency.
Such costs fuel a vicious circle of loss. To promote a company’s bottom line, managers must improve ergonomics processes, which means either going it alone or hiring an ergonomics consultant.
Seek Certified Professionals
Search the internet and you will find any number of pseudo-ergo gadgets claiming to solve common complaints: desks to alleviate sore backs, keyboards for aching wrists. On the surface, these “voodoo ergonomics” seem to offer inexpensive solutions, but in the long run they leave companies right where they started—footing the high costs of MSDs.[ii] In many cases, addressing ergonomics yourself even worsens the situation.
Professional consultants, however, are trained to offer long-term, customized solutions. Most importantly, their solutions are not just products, but processes aimed at workplace-specific issues.
Ergonomics consultants come from all walks of life and have developed a thorough understanding of how the body interacts with its environment. In addition to passing a comprehensive, three-hour exam, a Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE) must:
demonstrate at least three years of experience in ergonomics;
attain at least a bachelor’s degree in the field;
and submit work to verify his or her ability.[iii]
Hal W. Hendrick, past president of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, attributes many CPEs’ successes to the “breadth and richness” of their experiences.[iv] The blend of workforce experience with formal education promotes the rational use of ergonomics principles, leading to ideal solutions.
No two workplaces are alike. Each faces its own challenges and requires its own solutions. The Ohio State University’s Spine Research Institute (SRI) uses cutting edge research and advanced technology to ensure individualized improvements.
Unlike one-size-fits-all products, SRI ergonomists address MSDs from multiple angles. They measure workplace risks while considering how those risks affect different employees, accounting for personal factors like age, weight, genetics, and stress.
Furthermore, these improvements are not only aimed at offsetting injury—they increase productivity, too.[v] Here at the SRI, we have partnered successfully with multiple companies, such as Honda Manufacturing of America, where our tailored ergonomics interventions on one project saved Honda $1.8 million over five years, an ROI of 2023%.[vi]
Any product can advertise relief, but an ergonomics process developed by the SRI’s professional consultants will be rooted in quantitative evaluations, using state-of-the-art technology.
Comprehensive laboratories, biomechanical modeling, and sophisticated measurement systems like the Lumbar Motion Monitor (LMM), enable our ergonomists to dynamically assess risks without disrupting the workplace. Notably, the LMM has been proven to predict the degree of injury with extraordinary accuracy, and has been used in many successful ergonomics interventions.[vii]
It may be that everyone operates systems nowadays—computers, appliances, cars—but only certified ergonomists like those at the Spine Research Institute can evaluate workplace factors and develop custom processes to reduce injuries and promote productivity.
If you are interested in learning more about what our certified consultants can do for your organization, please email us or call 614-219-6063 and we will be in touch.
[i] Katz, Jeffrey N. "Lumbar Disc Disorders and Low Back Pain: Socioeconomic Factors and Consequences." The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Inc. Print.
[ii] Hendrick, Hal W. “Good Ergonomics is Good Economics.” Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 40th Annual Meeting. Santa Monica, California. 1996.
[iii] Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics. How to Certify. 2015. 10 Mar. 2015.
[iv] Hendrick. “Good Ergonomics is Good Economics.” 1996.
[v] Ergonomics-Info. Workplace Safety Ergonomics. 2010-2016. 4 Mar. 2015.
[vi] Rouse, William B. The Economics of Human Systems Integration. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2010.
[vii] Marras, William S. “Prospective validation of a low-back disorder model assessment of ergonomic interventions associated with manual materials handling tasks.” Ergonomics. Vol. 40. (2000) 1866-1886.