Ergonomic work compensation injuries can be costly and working from home can increase their likelihood, according to an expert who spoke during a session Thursday at the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc's online conference 2021.
Researchers studying the effects of the pandemic on the workforce have predicted that three-quarters of companies will permanently allow employees to work from home at least part of the time, says Michelle Despres, vice president and national product manager at Jacksonville, Florida-based One Call Care Management Inc.
But these remote employees face common risk factors in their home set, including contact voltages, static work cycles and awkward positions. If they do not work in an ergonomically correct environment, "there may be problems brewing beneath the surface," Despres said.
As a result, employers could see an increase in cumulative trauma injuries, including increases in the wrist or sprains, strains or contusions of the forearm; pain in hands and fingers cervical radiculopathy; carpal tunnel syndrome; and back pain, she said.
A single carpal tunnel can cost between $ 30,000 and $ 64,000, and a sprain or strain can cost between $ 32,000 and $ 67,000, according to One Call research.
"Ergonomics can help mitigate the risks associated with these injuries," says Despres.
She highlighted an ergonomic program such as Briotix Inc., a Los Angeles County tax counselor's workplace injury rehabilitation and prevention firm, with an average of approximately 6.5 musculoskeletal claims per year among its 450 office workers. 201
The county invested a total of about $ 56,000 in the program.About 85% of the workers participated in the virtual assessment and the county bought 9 $ 196,000 equipment for 57 workers based on the results of the assessment to improve ergonomic conditions.
During the three years following the implementation of the program, counties had an average of 3.3 musculoskeletal claims annually and the average cost per claim dropped to $ 13 000, according to the survey.