The Bottom Line: Workplace Ergonomics is a “Double Win”
Posted on July 12, 2022 | in Ergonomics
Ergonomist and Director of Research Blake McGowan explains how occupational ergonomics encompasses more than just injury reduction and worker health. There is also a huge impact on business performance.
References: Kolus A, Wells R, and Neumann P. (2018). Production quality and human factors engineering: A systematic review and theoretical framework. Appl Ergon. 2018 Nov;73:55-89.
Hi, my name is Blake McGowan, and I’m a certified professional ergonomist with the Humantech brand (now VelocityEHS Ergonomics). One of the more frustrating aspects of industrial ergonomics is that most organizations and safety professionals are unaware of or under appreciate the impact of ergonomics on overall system or business performance. As a result of that, they leave a lot of value on the table.
When you look at the definition of ergonomics by academic societies such as the International Ergonomics Association or the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, they say that there are two benefits to ergonomics. The first being improved overall employee well-being, and the second enhanced overall system or business performance. Ergonomics has a double win.
Well, if we look at the definition of ergonomics from governmental health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), you’ll see that they define ergonomics with a single purpose of only reducing soft tissue injuries and musculoskeletal disorders. There’s no mention about the impact on overall system or business performance, and as a result, they leave a lot of value on the table.
Now, in 2018, Patrick Newman and colleagues from Ryerson University in Canada set out to change that perception. They did a detailed systematic review of the literature that links ergonomics with improved product quality in the manufacturing environment. They identified 73 high-quality studies that show a very distinct linkage between good ergonomics and improved product quality.
So, what does this mean? What’s the bottom line? The bottom line is that ergonomics has two benefits: improved overall employee well-being and enhanced overall system or business performance, providing this double win.