The Hidden Costs of Office Chairs
In today’s fast-paced work environment, managers are demanding more work from fewer employees and those employees are demanding more from themselves. We are all working longer, harder and faster. And, many of us, in one way or another, are paying a high price for it.
100 million work days are lost each year to work-related back injuries
Lower back pain, caused by long periods of static seating, improper posture, back and lumbar support, is a leading cause of absenteeism and complaints by office workers. Non-adjustable work stations are to blame for the majority of these work-related injuries.
Not only do these work-related injuries cost the company money in terms of work days lost, they also cost in terms of lower productivity. When employees are uncomfortable with their work station, they tend to avoid it by taking longer breaks and spending fewer productive hours actually working.
It is cheaper to prevent repetitive strain injuries than to treat them
Repetitive motion injuries, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, are another leading cause of occupational illness. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a potentially crippling injury for the millions of employees using a computer on the job. Workers who sustained repetitive motion injuries required a median of 23 days away from work in 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is nearly three times as many days missed as all other types of workplace injuries and illnesses. Casualties of these injuries not only include those suffering from the symptoms, but also their employers who are being hit with workers’ compensation claims and lawsuits.
According to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, one of the most critical parts of a computer work station is the chair. A good ergonomic chair is one of the most cost-effective measures a company can take to prevent repetitive motion problems.
When weighed against skyrocketing medical, insurance and legal costs, the cost of a good ergonomic chair is literally peanuts. The old adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” has never been more applicable.
A good ergonomic office chair will save you money
With the help of a good ergonomic chair, the risks of back pain and repetitive motion injury problems can be greatly reduced. A good ergonomic chair provides comfort and support to five key body areas: upper spine, lower back, sitting bines, area behind the knee, and bottom part of the spine.
Compared to the costs of treating even one serious case of repetitive motion stress, even state-of-the-art workspace modifications are really inexpensive. The cost of refitting all workstations may be high, but a big improvement can certainly be made by replacing the seating. The chair is in constant contact with the user, and most affects his or her everyday comfort. So, this is the area that will produce the maximum benefit with the least impact on budget.
According to a study from the Center for Ergonomic Research at Miami University of Ohio, an increase in productivity can be achieved through the use of ergonomic chairs. Additionally, the ergonomic environment produced a 24.6% improvement in the average individual performance of each worker.
Consider the total cost of operating your business, the highest cost of processing information is obviously the worker. The cost of a good ergonomic chair to protect the worker is recovered very quickly in terms of increased productivity due to fewer sick days and less fatigued employees.
The chart below shows how much difference an ergonomically-correct chair makes in your company’s profit picture in terms of new productivity dollars, using a modest 10% increase in productivity in employees making $25,000 per year in salary and benefits.
,Number of Work Weeks*[attr colspan=”4″]
Number of employees,4,12,24,52
* Based on an average 8 hour work day less required breaks and lunch time.
And, after the initial chair cost is recovered, the increased productivity continues to add to your profits while reducing employee health problems and expense. Purchasing ergonomic chairs is, in essence, an investment by your company that quickly pays long-term dividends to your bottom line.