In addition to supporting worker health and safety, ergonomically sound work environments also provide important economic benefits.
Research suggests workplace safety initiatives are associated with an average of:
66% increase in productivity (2% - 104%)
44% increase in quality (4% - 73%)
82% increase in safety records (52% - 100%)
71% increase in cost benefits (38% - 100%)
In some cases, it can take as little as 8 months to 'payback' the monetary investment in a safety initiative.
The direct benefit-to-cost ratio of ergonomic interventions can range from 2:1 to 10:1, meaning every dollar spent can provide $2 to $10 worth of benefits.
Ergonomics, Quality, and Profit
While the direct costs of poor ergonomics tend to be the most visible (e.g. medical and workers' compensation), indirect costs can be 0.5 to 20 times more exorbitant. For example, impacts on decreased quality, replacing workers and the associated training costs, and productivity/production losses.
Poor ergonomics can have a direct negative impact on quality and profit. Ergonomically unsound designs can lead to physical and mental fatigue, and in turn, errors and reduction in work quality. Unaddressed fatigue can accumulate and lead to chronic injury.
Poor working conditions also affect quality. In tasks requiring increased force or precision, there are subsequent increases in fatigue, quality errors, and the need for inspection. For a business, fatigue can also lead to product malfunctions and resulting warranty claims, parts replacement, decreased customer satisfaction, and brand erosion.