Human Cost of MSD Injuries and Presenteeism

Above and beyond the monetary costs of worker’s compensation, which is already expensive and goes up most years, plus treatment and healthcare costs, there are also human costs. Below is a partial list of costs, as well as some financial connections. As you read below, keep in mind that Accurate Ergonomics offers an effective, strategic approach to solving these problems and many more. Positive, measureable results have been achieved in every application when employers follow our simple, “prescription for sustainable success.”

  • The Employee. When an employee is unable to work due to an injury, both their physical and financial wellbeing are affected. Their work produces the income they need in order to put food on the table, pay their bills, and to be able to afford whatever they are passionate about in life.

  • The Family. MSD injuries often result in chronic pain, substance abuse and family stress. MSD injuries have been the catalyst for the financial demise of many families and are often precursors to separation and divorce.

  • The Team. When employees are absent from the workforce, their team are left to wonder how their coworkers are getting along. The absence of injured employees also places coworkers at jeopardy and increases stress. The remaining team members have to do the same or more work, often with less bodies. They might also have to work with a team member who may not be as well trained on the particular job or tasks at hand. These factors increase the risk of injury to every remaining team member.

  • Morale. Injuries also lower workplace morale and workforce productivity. Workers most often rate their coworkers as the number one reason they enjoy their job. When coworkers are missing and there are not effective, managerial communications in place, remaining employees don’t really know what happened. Rumors and false information permeate the workforce, further exacerbating the problem. In addition, when a percentage of a workforce is working while in pain, morale always takes a hit. For these reasons and more, injuries have a negative impact on the safety culture and safety climate of all organizations.

  • Productivity. After an injured employee returns to work, they are then five times more likely to reinjure themselves. If a company has 300 workers, you can be assured that some of them had some type of a pre-existing condition when they were hired. Perhaps they had been involved in a car accident or two, were hurt in a sporting event or even at their previous job. Others may have been born with a spinal abnormality or congenital disorder. If the injury rate of your company is 4.5 and every year 13 people become the victims of a painful injury, after just 10 short years, the cumulative total of injured workers who now cannot perform tasks at what was once their peak performance is now over 50% of your entire workforce!

  • Culture: Safety Culture always takes a hit when an employee is seriously injured. Friends are missing, investigations take place, rumors begin and sometimes blame is cast, or at least insinuated. In many instances, injuries do not bring about the best in people and may often point to flaws in numerous areas. Exposing what was incorrect with an act, a flaw in a piece of equipment or a process may be fertile ground for negative outcomes. People often take sides or may use this information to bolster a position, or even to justify disciplinary measures. Injuries are never cause to celebrate, so the more injuries there are, the bigger the influence is on the culture.

  • Absenteeism & Presenteeism. Absenteeism is when an employee does not show up for work. The only illness which causes employees to miss work more than MSD injuries, is the common cold. Presenteeism, non-productive time while on the clock, due to fatigue, discomfort and pain costs ten times the amount of absenteeism.

Presenteeism has only begun to receive attention in recent years. Research suggests that 50% of the average workforce loses 5.5 hours a week due to presenteeism. An employee may come to work because they simply need the money and cannot afford to take time off, however, many employees experience fatigue, discomfort, and pain as a result of their everyday tasks and activities. Some of these activities include sitting at a desk, lifting, and standing on hard surfaces throughout a shift. Consequences of chronic presenteeism may include negative effects on downstream health status, job attendance dynamics and organizational membership.

Where MSDs are concerned, presenteeism is a substantial hidden cost. Fatigue, discomfort, and pain exist to a greater degree in many workforces than once were believed and take a financial toll on every business, every day. In fact, a recent study showed that over 75% of employees experience fatigue, discomfort or pain on a daily basis.

Today, every employer is feeling the pain from rising healthcare, treatment and insurance costs. Whether your business is already taking a big financial hit, or you see trouble looming ahead, at AE we see this as an epidemic with no end in sight. At least not until proactive and effective preventative measures and solutions are properly put in place. Today, many businesses are doing the same or more work, with fewer people and without a strategic plan to reap the huge benefits derived from an injury-free workforce, “benefits which pay dividends for life.”

How big of a financial toll might this have on your organization?

Take the total number of employees in your entire workforce and divide that number in half. Now multiply that number by 5 and multiply that result by the total average hourly wage at your company. Finally, multiply that number times 50. There is your answer. That is how much money your company might be losing every year, to presenteeism.

Ex: 300 workers: 300/2= 150. 150×5= 750. 750x$25.00= $18,750. $18,750×50= $937,500.

Are MSDs Eating Away at the Human Capacity and Profits of Your Organization?

Accurate Ergonomics is an industry-leading ergonomics and musculoskeletal injury prevention organization. We know how to help you get to the bottom of your costs and how to turn these losses into profits. Put an end to these costs and navigate your way to world-class injury prevention excellence. It's the best investment you'll ever make.

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