What is workplace ergonomics and why does it matter?

What is workplace ergonomics and why does it matter?

Nearly 500,000 UK workers and 1.8 million US workers in desk-based jobs are currently suffering from musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries like neck strain and back pain. Most desk-related injuries can be prevented with better workplace ergonomics. 

We’re in the aftermath of a pandemic which forced millions of people to change the way they worked. Workplace ergonomics slipped down the priority list as people scrambled to create makeshift home offices. Office chairs were replaced with kitchen stools and dining tables became desks. 

A Brandwatch study revealed that nearly one million complaints of back pain were made online during the peak of the pandemic. A further 400,000 people complained about eye strain and wrist pain.  

Today, rates of MSK pain are still sky-high amongst remote, hybrid and office-based desk workers. This is largely due to poor posture, bad habits such as working for long periods without breaks, and incorrect positioning of equipment within a workspace. In short, poor workplace ergonomics. 

What is workplace ergonomics? 

Workplace ergonomics is all about making sure a working environment is fit for the user. It covers everything from environmental factors such as temperature and noise, to the physical aspects of a workspace like chairs and screen setup.

Ergonomic office equipment and healthy working practices can protect you and your team from developing work-related MSK injuries over time. 

Why does workplace ergonomics matter?

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 exist to protect desk workers from the health risks associated with using computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones for long periods of time. Under these regulations, employers are required to assess their team’s desk setups, equipment and overall workplace ergonomics. 

Besides the legal requirement, there are many reasons why employers and employees should care about workplace ergonomics:

1. To eliminate musculoskeletal (MSK issues) 

MSK issues are one of the largest health-related costs to employers. On average, 2.6% of a workforce require time off work for issues like back pain each year with an average absence length of 29 days. Workplace personal injury and health and safety negligence lawsuits can reach six-figure settlements and ergonomics can help you minimise that risk! 

Did you know? A study by Recruiting Times revealed that the cost of sick pay each year for a company with 50 people is more than the average employee salary.

In most cases, workplace MSK issues and injuries can be avoided with small ergonomic adjustments such as repositioning your screen or raising your laptop. With the correct ergonomic setup, employees can remedy these issues and keep aches and pains at bay.

Workplace ergonomics is a great way to show your company’s commitment to health and safety, by reducing the risk of any hazards and threats to MSK health.

2. To boost workplace productivity 

Our extensive research into workplace MSK trends reveals that the dip in productivity from issues like back pain costs the global economy a whopping $1.69 trillion each year! 

Did you know? One in four desk workers are working at roughly 15% below capacity due to MSK pain.

A study conducted by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries reported a 40% increase in productivity and 56% reduction in error rate in a group of 4,000 employees after they started using ergonomic furniture.

Ergonomic workplace setups enable employees to maintain concentration and work more productively. As a result, they’ll produce a higher quality of work for your business.

3. To improve job satisfaction and retention

An investment in ergonomics is an investment in your people. A powerful way to show your team you truly care about their health and wellbeing.

In these challenging times, employee engagement and morale is more important than ever. A survey by HR Executive revealed that 80% of employees would consider leaving their job for another job with a greater focus on employee health, so it’s clear that investing in ergonomics could save you thousands in the long run

Did you know?  Employees with MSK pain are 64% less likely to find their job rewarding and more likely to quit. It costs £30,000 on average to replace an employee and £1,500 for new employee training.

Providing your team with ergonomic furniture can make them feel more valued and more likely to stay with the company as a result. 

With 65% of employees suffering from desk-related pain, ergonomics is not just a luxury and certainly not just a health and safety tickbox. Hybrid working is here to stay and it’s time for companies and staff to prioritise ergonomics in all kinds of workplace environments. 

Our brand new Ultimate Workplace Ergonomics Handbook will help you and your team understand everything you need to know about workplace ergonomics. Download it today and learn how to create a safer, healthier working environment, no matter where you work!

Content Marketing Manager

Marisa has over 7 years of experience writing about a range of clinical topics including DSE, hybrid working and employee wellbeing. Check out more of Marisa's articles on the Vitrue Health blog!

Related Posts

Never miss out!

Join our waitlist by entering your email below and we’ll let you know as soon as we upload our latest webinar.

    Get workplace insights straight to your inbox

    Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to get exclusive compliance and wellbeing updates.