Online vs. In-Person Office Ergonomics Assessments
Does this sound familiar? Louise from Accounting has just filed a workers’ compensation claim after experiencing debilitating neck and shoulder pain. She’s your third employee to file this year, and now she’d like an ergonomics assessment for her workstation. Your other workers dealing with less severe neck pain have heard about the option to get an assessment and now they want one too.
Before you know it, all 300 of your office workers think this sounds like a great idea (after all, they don’t want to be in pain like Louise!) and are making requests for an assessment. Even the workers from your West coast location have asked. Geez! Word travels fast. What do you do?
The likely answer is that you’ll do what your company has done in the past. For many people, that means an ergonomist comes to your office and performs the assessments in person. Sure, she’s expensive, and yes, it does take her a while to get through 300 assessments, but that’s just the way it is. If only there were a faster, less expensive, and more sustainable approach…
Well, cue the celebratory music, because there is a better way: online assessments! And just so we’re all clear, when I say online assessments, I’m referring to ergonomics software that includes basic training about how to make workstation adjustments and a tool for individuals to perform their own self-assessment. Let’s cover the top three reasons why a software approach might be better for you.
Time: Online assessments are faster.
If we estimate 30 minutes per person for in-person assessments (which is usually the case with measurements, discussion, and travel time between workstations), an ergonomist can complete 16 assessments per day. For your 300 employees, she’ll spend more than 18 days doing this! Ergonomics software with self-assessment tools will provide training for your employees and empower them to make their own workstation adjustments.* No more waiting weeks or months for the assessment to happen.
Cost: Online assessments cost less.
In-person consulting isn’t cheap. If you have multiple locations and hundreds of employees, the bill for several weeks of consulting can run quite high. Ergonomics software will come with a yearly subscription fee that is less than the cost of that weeks- or months-long consulting bill.
Sustainability: Software promotes a sustainable ergonomics process.
In-person assessments are a static effort. The ergonomist spends a moment in time with your employee, and then leaves. What happens if the workstation changes? Maybe the employee gets a new desk or adds another monitor. Online training educates and empowers your employees so that they can make the appropriate changes themselves. It also enables them to complete multiple self-assessments, so if there is an office renovation or they move desks, you don’t incur any additional charges or waste time waiting for an ergonomist to come in person. And if you hire new people, they can quickly go online, get the same (consistent!) training that all your employees received, and perform their own self-assessment.
Ergonomics software may not be the best choice for everyone, but it’s certainly the better option for companies who are looking for a sustainable ergonomics process. You don’t need hundreds of employees across multiple locations to benefit from ergonomics software; the sustainability and self-sufficiency achieved through software can also benefit single locations and smaller companies.
*A small number of your employees, less than 5%, will have more serious issues that require one-on-one attention. A good software tool will identify those people so you can focus your internal resources (or hire an ergonomist) to work with them first.