If you are having trouble convincing your company that good ergonomics is good economics, take a look at the compilation of ergonomics successes below:
As part of a settlement with OSHA, meatpacking company John Morrell & Co. established a comprehensive ergonomics program with elements that included: training, recordkeeping, job analyses, and medical management.
In 1987, the year before the program began, there were 880 musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) reported at this facility. In 1988, the number dropped to 364; in 1990 it dropped again to 189; and in 1993, the facility had only 89 reported MSDs.
Source: OSHA case file documentation
Textile manufacturer Fieldcrest-Cannon reduced work-related musculoskeletal disorders MSDs from 121 in 1993 to only 21 in 1996 - a more than 80% drop. The company implemented engineering controls such as springs for the material-handling boxes. Workers designed and management implemented a new improved bagging system. The company also purchased adjustable chairs.
Source: Workshop on corporate-wide settlement agreements, March 24, 1999, Washington, D.C.
Bath vanity and furniture maker Woodpro Cabinetry made ergonomic changes which resulted in a decrease of almost 40% in workers' compensation costs declining from $103,824 to $61,000. The company adopted engineering controls such as dropping the conveyor belt so workers had easier access to the tops of cabinets, installing conveyors to minimize manual lifting, purchasing angled tables to reduce bending and reaching. They also implemented job rotation.
Source: Ergonomics: Effective Workplace and Practices Conference, Chicago 1997, NIOSH Proceedings
Charleston Forge, a metal furniture manufacturing company, established an ergonomics program that cut lost workdays from work-related musculoskeletal disorders from 176 in 1991 to 0 in 1997. Ergonomic changes increased productivity 25%.
Source: CTD News, January 1996
In 1989, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer identified MSDs as 80% of worker compensation losses. The company found that these injuries resulted from manual lifting, particularly lifting material from the floor. Also in 1989, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer had 66 lost time accidents and 156 recordable injuries totaling $1.2 million in workers' compensation costs.
Rhone- Poulenc Rorer redesigned the work process to reduce lifting from floor level by 80%. The company installed power straddle lifts and power-flex conveyor systems. It replaced metal filter press plates weighing over 60 pounds with plastic frames that weigh 15 pounds.
With the change in work processes, by 1994, lost time accidents had decreased from 66 to 4, recordable injuries decreased from 156 to 60 and workers' compensation losses decreased ten-fold.
Source: Rhone-Poulenc Rorer correspondence to OSHA dated November 10, 1994.
More information on any of the above mentioned case studies can be found at http://www.osha.gov.