Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Economics of Ergonomics

A 2006 publication that is worth reading ...

"EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Sound ergonomics makes economic sense. The goal of ergonomics is to boost productivity by increasing employee performance and comfort and reducing injuries and errors. CPA firms that attend to staff members’ comfort and health are rewarded with greater work performance and job loyalty.

A neat, clean and comfortable work environment is important. It could mean the difference between having a superstar or a mediocre person come work for your firm.

To begin a program, CPA firms can create an internal ergonomics committee to gather information and seek training or hire a consultant. Ergonomics committees should involve the human resources department in the design and implementation of new programs.

The ergonomics committee should look at the postures people assume at work, the tasks they perform, the office lighting and temperature, and the furniture and workstation arrangements. A firm that is outfitting an office with ergonomic equipment should seek out only durable, adjustable, high-quality products.

There is no one-size-fits-all workstation arrangement. One absolute: Equipment should be at a distance that doesn’t cause employees to twist their heads, necks or bodies.

Applying ergonomic principles in the workplace doesn’t call for NASA scientists or a big budget. From setting the right temperature in the office to providing chairs with back support and lights that minimize eyestrain, CPA firms that attend to staff comfort and health are rewarded with greater productivity and job loyalty.

BUT HOW TO BEGIN?
Whether you’re expanding or changing locations, designing a more ergonomically sound office can yield big rewards whatever your firm’s size. If your firm is large, form an ergonomics committee to ask employees or the human resources department about any physical issues that have arisen and to research what type of ergonomics program is best. Any time a firm introduces new equipment or technology to the office, employees can feel anxious, alienated, overworked and vulnerable, so it’s wise to involve HR in the design and implementation of new programs.

It will be helpful if the committee can determine whether particular departments or tasks carry a higher rate of repetitive stress injury (RSI) than others. The committee also can review the types of ergonomic products available and attend some ergonomics training before developing a program budget.

“Programs don’t have to be too formal,” Hedge says, “but some formality helps keep enthusiasm from waning.” He suggests smaller firms designate a few staff members as ergonomics champions to organize periodic awareness meetings, help employees get ergonomics training (see www.healthycomputing.com) and monitor the program’s performance and success.

Most ergonomic changes involve little or no cost, Hedge says. For instance, you can move equipment closer so people can reach it without straining and without awkward postures, he says (see “Case Study”). For a small cost, the firm’s managers can make sure employees have well-designed chairs and learn how to sit properly in them. The most important thing is to listen to and involve employees in the process of improving their workspaces."    (Continued via The Industrial Athlete, Journal of Accontancy)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Stand-up Workstation - Ergonomics

Stand-up Workstation

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