Tips from the intersection of workers' comp and business.

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There's a hidden source of injuries in many offices that you probably aren't even thinking about.

These injuries cost companies billions of dollars each year in workers' compensation claims and lost time off work. In fact, according to the US Department of Labor, they account for 33% of all reported worker injuries and illnesses.

And yet, these sorts of work-related injuries; carpal tunnel, tennis elbow, back pain and tendinitis are often preventable.

The key is to pay attention to ergonomics.

Why ergonomics matters

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) primarily affect the muscles, nerves, ligaments and tendons in your body. Repeated movements, things like lifting heavy boxes, clicking a mouse or even slouching at your desk repeatedly can cause damage over the long run.

Eventually, the pain can impact an employee's ability to do their job. They might need time off, pain medications or even surgery to recover. That not only hurts your employee's quality of life and productivity, but it can also have an impact on your bottom line.

The good news is that most workplace related MSDs are preventable—if you're paying attention.

That's why it's good business sense to take ergonomics seriously.

Putting the right people in the right roles and ensuring your employees are practicing good ergonomics while they work is a great way to promote a healthy and safe workplace. Plus, it can cut down on injuries and workers' comp claims.

So here's how you do it.

Performing a self-check on office ergonomics

First, do a self-assessment on your office ergonomics. From there, you can create a working ergonomics policy that's posted around your workspace as a reminder for your employees.

Check the overall office environment

Take a look at your current office setup. And ask yourself these questions:

  • Are the desks and chairs in good shape? Are more adjustable or ergonomically stable chairs needed? This infographic has information for both sitting and standing desks that can be shared via email or in an ergonomics guide sent to employees.
  • Are people using makeshift spaces to work?
  • Are there any hidden issues like poor lighting or temperature variations that could contribute to fatigue?

Any of these issues are potential workers' comp hazards.

Inspect your equipment

Old keyboards and mouses are a common culprit of MSDs like carpal tunnel syndrome for workers who spend most of their day on the computer. Double check what you have and note where upgrades are necessary, especially for employees who are starting to feel pain.

Invest in ergonomic accessories

You might find an easy fix is to invest in a few tools that help with ergonomics around the office. Getting wrist rests for keyboards, balance ball chairs and even headsets for people who speak on the phone most of the day can all make a big difference over time.

Encourage movement

A lot of companies are paying attention to the concept of workplace wellness programs today. These programs encourage employees to do little things that focus on improving their health while at work.

Encouraging employees to take a number of short breaks during the day to move around for just a few minutes can give the body a chance to relax and reinvigorate focus when they return to their desks.

There are also a few exercises employees can do including stretching their arms, wrists, fingers and necks. You can print out examples or even lead employees as part of a training session, so they have a few examples of exercises they can do at their desks.

Promote good posture

Many of your employees may have bad working posture because they don't actually know what good posture should look like. You can fix that by printing out a few signs that highlight good ergonomics and placing them around the office.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a list that highlights good ergonomic posture for a number of industries.

Just taking these simple steps can go a long way towards promoting wellness in your company and reducing the potential for these common workplace injuries.

Take it one step further and make sure both you and your employees have protection when it comes to injury or illness in the workplace. Cake can help you learn the ins and outs of Colorado workers' comp rules and regulations and ensure your business gets the coverage it needs.

All it takes is 5 minutes to get started. Visit the Cake application and get a quote today.