Healthcare costs and serious injuries are avoidable: what can you do to stay out of the system?
Painful injuries from repetitive strain or long days of sitting in our office chairs are common. Most of us know someone who has been to physiotherapy or chiropractors to help them with pain in their back, strain in their wrist, or tightness in their hips.
These injuries can sneak up on us. We’ve often worked long hours with no pain or discomfort. How does it happen? Perhaps we noticed (and ignored) a small tweak before the pain? It also might have gotten worse over the last few months of working from home in uncomfortable chairs or sitting on the floor. In some, more severe cases, it may take pain medication to get us through the day.
Recognizing warning signs and preventing injuries – called Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) – can be complicated.
LIFEFORM® can help. We’ve been listening to our customers for almost 50 years. They tell us about their pain – when it comes, where it’s located, and how they manage it. Learning from these experiences, we design office chairs, adopting new and innovative technologies to identify solutions to issues before they become chronic. One such example is the Core-flex® split seat; encouraging a small range of natural motion by actually splitting the seat. Core muscles are stimulated, allowing for improved comfort and increased circulation.
Learning the basic but important stats
MSD in North America accounts for the most lost-time injuries, the highest lost-time claim costs, and the most lost-time workdays of any type of injury. In Canada, Workers’ Compensation Board figures from various jurisdictions across the country indicate that MSDs account for 25% to 60% of total annual compensation claims. Statistics are very similar in the U.S.
Often painful and disabling, they can also interfere with all kinds of tasks at work, at home, and at play. Even in the early stages, recovery from MSD often requires months or even years of treatment. In severe cases, there may be a permanent disability. Promoting a preventive care program to avoid injuries before they develop seems like a smart decision for everyone involved. This can be large-scale, like creating an ergonomic program in your company. Or they can also be simple – with the purchase of a quality ergonomic chair to give your employees the support they need.
With over 20 ergonomic options to build our office chairs, LIFEFORM® designs each one to be easily adaptable to individual needs. If there is pain or discomfort in the wrist, we have an armrest for that. Need more back support? Our adjustable lumbar support goes where you need it most. Have a neck issue? Our built-in or add-on headrests will save you a lot of headaches. Literally.
The cost of MSD injuries
Ergonomics provides a means for adjusting your work environment and work practices to do just that; prevent injuries before they occur. If effective, these ergonomic programs are a cost-saving opportunity and the right thing to do for employers and employees alike. Considering injuries cost millions of dollars every year in direct and hidden costs, companies need to start asking if they can afford the price of not incorporating ergonomic practices into their operations.
And while there is a large burden to companies, and to the healthcare system in general because of MSD, the other side of the issue is more personal. What do MSD injuries cost the person affected by the injury itself? They are often left with pain, stress, loss of productivity, time off for medical appointments, and less time with family.
The scope of ergonomics is very broad but mainly refers to assessing work-related factors that may pose a risk of MSDs and recommendations to relieve them. Examples of these risk factors are found in jobs requiring repetitive tasks; typing and prolonged awkward postures; sitting for long periods of time without the proper support.
Good ergonomic design in the workplace can improve productivity, help avoid illness and injury risks, and lead to increased satisfaction among workers. Investing in injury prevention programs saves money on injury management.
It’s not just enough to HAVE these programs. Preventing injuries before they get to the debilitating stage needs involvement and buy-in from everyone involved. Support and active engagement is required – certainly from the company leadership, and also from the employees.
There are serious risks involved in sitting for long periods of time and performing repetitive tasks. However, we can prevent becoming a statistic, whether it’s a business or an individual employee. It’s essential to make sure your chair provides the right support to keep ergonomic alignment. And always reinforce to employees how important this alignment is. Keeping employees out of the healthcare system is a huge win for them and your company. If they’re paying attention to smaller aches and pains, these can be dealt with before they become a real problem that can cost money, time, and productivity.
Want to learn more? Call LIFEFORM® to get more details on how we can help your company with ergonomic office chairs and accessories.