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Are your company’s team members experiencing high rates of back, neck or shoulder pain? Ergonomics will solve the problem, right? Maybe not.


of employees reported experiencing regular muscle and joint discomfort

In a survey of 870 employees across multiple industries, Vimocity found that nearly 70% of employees reported experiencing regular muscle and joint discomfort. This pain is significant not only because of its prevalence but also because of how costly it is to employers and its negative impact on employee morale. In fact, a recent study estimated that back pain alone costs employers $346 per employee each year in medical claims and productivity loss. From a workers’ compensation standpoint, these musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) make up approximately ⅓ of all workplace injury claims and about ½ of the costs.

So what do employers do to start addressing these issues? The predominant approach in the last several decades has been to focus on ergonomics. In fact, the US Department of Labor, OSHA, and the National Safety Council all list ergonomics as THE solution to workplace musculoskeletal disorders. Ergonomics is certainly an essential step in reducing workplace injuries. However, there are 3 main reasons why ergonomics alone isn’t enough to fully address the widespread pain employees are experiencing today.

Ergonomics Fails to Address the Human Componentergonomics, desk setup, good ergonomics

Ergonomics primarily focuses on setting up an environment and tools to fit the worker’s height and proportions. However, this emphasis on the environment and products largely fails to address the individual themselves. The individual’s movement patterns and restrictions aren’t taken into account. For example, teaching someone proper lifting technique when their hips are too tight and restricted to actually get in the proper position is not going to result in a successful outcome. Similarly, in an office setting, ergonomic workstations can decrease stress on the body, but only when employees’ bodies are positioned correctly. Getting employees moving better and creating awareness of body positioning is an essential first step that ergonomics skips.

An Ideal Ergonomic Setup Isn’t Always Possible

remote work, workplace, workspace,

Even if employers provide team members with workstations and tools equipped with the latest ergonomic bells and whistles, employees don’t always have the opportunity to utilize them. The 21st-century workforce is more mobile than ever, often working from laptops and smartphones while in conference rooms, coffee shops and at home. Or what if an employee working in the field has to perform a task requiring an awkward position?  This is where training around awareness of body positioning becomes essential to minimize stress on the body.

The Human Body Was Designed to Move

Regardless of your ergonomic setup or positioning, 8 hours of sitting or other repetitive motions per day places a lot of stress on the body. The average person does little to offset this stress which creates a compounding effect, eventually leading to pain or an injury. Every joint in the body was built to move and when we fail to get those joints moving, we can actually limit the range of motion that those joints have. Lack of consistent movement limits the production of the fluid (synovial fluid) that lubricates joints and increases the wear and tear on joints. Humans were designed to move all of their joints through a full range of motion and do this often. Targeted movements that take a joint through its full range of motion is typically not a component of ergonomics.

Although ergonomics is an essential part of preventing workplace injuries, ergonomics alone is not enough to address the multiple factors driving the epidemic of employee muscle and joint pain.  A holistic approach that addresses the person, the job task, and the culture is required to make a significant and lasting change.


Want to learn more about how Vimocity goes beyond ergonomics to successfully predict and prevent workplace injuries and employee pain before it occurs?

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1 http://www.corporatewellnessmagazine.com/column/sore-points-how-much-is-employee-back-pain-costing-your-company/
2 https://www.osha.gov/news/testimonies/04272000

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