Ergonomics Equals Performance

Space: Another HR Frontier

Sep 1, 2002
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HR Magazine, September 2002

For low-cost design interventions that can boost performance and raise satisfaction, think about health and safety, say experts. Incredibly, there are still a huge number of workers whose chairs and workstations are not ergonomically sound.

Jerome Congleton, professor of ergonomics and safety at Texas A&M University, estimates that only 15 percent of the workplace has office equipment--including chairs, adjustable workstations, document holders, keyboards and monitor stands--that meets acceptable ergonomics standards.

Creating ergonomically sound environments doesn't come cheap. A workstation with those components could cost between $2,500 and $3,000. But that investment could pay worthwhile dividends. Congleton says studies by the Internal Revenue Service and the State of Washington show productivity improvements from 15 percent to 25 percent. It sounds too simple, but there's nothing more effective that people can do.

UPS in Atlanta took Congleton​'s advice, installing top-of-the-line chairs manufactured by Neutral Posture Inc. of Bryan, Texas, and adjustable workstations for their 2,000 general office staff and 4,300 telephone service center workers. The result? Productivity, including calls-per-hour, rose 17 percent; employee satisfaction surveys showed improvement everywhere; and injury rates plummeted.

Overall, injuries are down 43 percent in the past five years, says Marenda Caldwell, industrial engineering manager in Atlanta. Lost workdays related to injuries are down 49 percent for the same period.

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