Being focused on agriculture and the inherent risks of working outdoors, on ladders and with large machinery, many companies don’t consider the risks of injuries to the clerical workers in their main offices. According to a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly one-third of all injuries were related to muscle or skeletal events including carpal tunnel syndrome, injuries to the neck, shoulder and back. Many of these injuries occurred in the office and not in the fields. These injuries were not insignificant as the average injury of this type required a range of 11-16 days away from the workplace for the worker to recover.
This causes a number of negative impacts on the business owner including lost time, additional cost to hire replacement workers, overtime to keep workloads current and impact on employee morale. It also costs the insurance company more for medical treatment, disability payments, and loss settlement costs. These increase the workers compensation losses of the business entity, which results in a higher ex-mod and increased workers compensation insurance costs. Reducing office worker injuries can have a significant impact on a business owner increasing their costs and creating a more challenging environment for the remaining office staff. In order to reduce the potential for ergonomic injuries, business entities should consider doing inspections to identify any issues in several key areas:
- Chairs and chair adjustments: Sometimes just a minor adjustment can alleviate serious issues.
- Keyboard and mouse: The right types can make injuries less likely to occur.
- Monitor and documents: Having the monitor at the right level and a document holder for high production employees can also prevent injuries.
- Additional accessories: Glare screens, telephone headsets, plastic floor mats and ergonomic staplers can all make employees with large data entry duties more comfortable.
Although you can hire an ergonomic specialist to come in and review your work environment to identify areas for improvement, most workers compensation carriers will gladly send out their safety inspectors to help you improve your office situation. Western Growers Insurance Services also has safety specialists who can provide this service as well. If interested in finding out more, contact Greg Nelson, assistant vice president of Commercial Lines.
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