Pacific Ergonomics has done a multitude of home office ergonomic assessments since COVID began, and it amazes me that employers are taking little to no action to decrease the risk of injury. Employees are working long hours every day with awkward postures at home. This creates a high risk of discomfort, injury and lack of productivity, yet little to no action is being taken by most companies.
Employees who have never worked at home before are now working all over the house in crazy awkward postures for 8-12 hours a day. Many of these employees have never worked at home before COVID and now are working at home from their sofa, their bed, or their bar counter with no back support. Millions and millions of people are now working at home without a desk, a quality chair, monitors, and the basics they need to be comfortable and productive.
Combine that with the challenges of shared spaces, temperature, and space issues, relatively little attention is being paid to home office workers’ health and well being. These employees are working in ways that actually increase the risk of discomfort, injury and increase Workers Comp claims. Not to mention the effect on productivity! The fact remains that employees who are not comfortable or worse yet are in pain, will not be productive and will call in sick more often. That would be the good news, the expensive part is if these employees get hurt and it leads to claims.
So why then, with these heightened risks are employers are taking little to no action?
Why Are Employers Letting Employees Work From Hard Kitchen Chairs 8-12 Hours a Day?
A company would never hire an employee, give them a laptop and then tell them to do their work on a bed, a sofa, a hard kitchen chair or a lawn chair 8-12 hours a day.
Can you imagine if HR added a new employee to the company and said………”Here you go, all my best to you. Here is your laptop and your hard kitchen chair and non-adjustable table. If you need a more comfortable chair, or have any pain, live with it for as long as you can, and when you can’t stand it any longer, submit an ergonomic assessment report, jump through all types of hoops, and maybe, just we will buy you a cheap chair that also doesn’t fit your body.”
Companies don’t do this because employees’ productivity would plummet and Workers Comp claims would soar with injured, unhappy employees.
So why is it that with Covid, many companies are continuing to let employees work from home in these same conditions with no help?
Companies Have Been in a “Waiting Game” While Employees are Growing in Discomfort:
It has been seven months and many companies now have hard plans for employees to continue to work at home through the year at a minimum. That is almost a year at home in discomfort, with no end or solution in sight. Yet leadership is still in discussions, thinking, waiting, exploring options with what they should do.
- Waiting to see how long COVID will require their employees will be at home.
- Waiting to see what other companies are doing.
- Waiting to see just how many employees will complain.
- Waiting to see the projections of when there will be a cure.
- Waiting to see if they do have Workers Comp claims?
- Waiting to see who will still be around and who to invest in.
- Waiting to see if they can figure out not to spend money they don’t have to.
- Waiting to see if this will all somehow go away?
The Risk of Doing Nothing While Employees Work All Over the House in Discomfort is High
While companies are “waiting” to see what happens, employees are getting more and more uncomfortable, and many are getting hurt. Workers’ Comp claims are starting to rise and companies are starting to take notice.
This is an example of healthy postures for working 8-12 hours a day. It is impossible to work like this from a bed, a sofa or a hard kitchen chair which is how employees are working.
Awkward Postures with Repetition Over Time Leads to Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) – the 1/3 Largest Workers Comp Claims that Companies Face
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in 2013, Musculoskeletal Disorder cases, which Workers Comp calls Cumulative Trauma, accounted for 33% of all worker injury and illness cases. Very common for employees working from a computer all day incorrectly.
- The average cost of MSDs ranges from $64,000- $84,000.
Call Pacific Ergonomics to help your company with a home office strategy for employees to prevent discomfort, injury, and increase productivity. We offer telephone ergonomic assessments around the United States and on-site assessment services. Call 619-546-0872