HR Indaba Africa 2019: Formfunc Studio to show why businesses should care about ergonomics

Ergonomists Josie King and Janice Pozzo to explain how improving employees' posture is good for business.

The upcoming HR Indaba will feature a presentation by Formfunc Studio on the economics of ergonomics. The presentation will provide research findings that support the business case for implementing ergonomics into the workplace. Formfunc Studio is the Southern Africa representative for an ergonomics brand called Humanscale, which provides furniture and accessories that improve the health, wellness and productivity of employees who spend most of the day working on a computer, whether it is a laptop or a desktop.

Josie King, who is one the South Africa’s few Masters-qualified ergonomists will be among the team presenting the case for the why organisations shouldn’t view the pursuit of ergonomically efficient workspaces as merely a nice-to-have feature of the employee wellness activity. On the contrary, ergonomics solutions can derive returns on investment that transform an organisation’s competitive edge.

“While they may seem costly, research has shown that ergonomic interventions invariably result in long-term net gains for the organisation that implements them,” says Josie.  

In 2017, for example, Cornell University Professor in the Department of Design and Environmental was in South Africa and he presented case studies which reflected up to a 17:1 return on investment for an ergonomics programme, meaning that, for every R100,000 spent, organisations could get returns of up to R1.7 million.

Long term effects of bad posture

Josie says efficient ergonomics can reduce the incidence of workplace-musculoskeletal disorders (WMSD). Musculoskeletal disorders are a group of conditions that involve the nerves, tendons, muscles, ligaments, joints, cartilage, and spinal discs. WMSDs are developed and/or exacerbated from having bad posture over an extended period of time.

A workstation that is ergonomically correct will reduce stress injuries, repetitive strain injuries and musculoskeletal discomfort due to awkward postures.

“An ergonomic workstation in combination with behavioural changes may help in improving staff performance, comfort levels, and eliminating the awkward postures that result from non-ergonomic workstations,” she says. 

Billions lost to back pain

There is increasing evidence that incorporating ergonomics into the workplace delivers an impressive return on investments. Improving companies' ergonomic design and education in this field can lead to better employee wellbeing and an increase in their productivity.

The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), for example, has estimated that 5.7 million working days (full-day equivalent) were lost in 2001/02 mainly as a result of back pain that was caused or made worse by work.

That research found that, on average, each person suffering took an estimated 18.9 days off in that 12-month period. Additionally, they estimate that 4.1 million working days (full-day equivalent) were lost in 2001/02 through WMSDs that mainly affected the upper limbs or neck and were made worse by work.

According to the study, this resulted in an estimated 17.8 days off per person in that 12-month period. The economic costs to individuals, industries and society are also excessive. The HSE estimated the cost to the economy to be £5.7 billion per year.

Join Formfunc at the HR Indaba to gain insightful lessons on how ergonomics can improve employee wellness while saving your organisation tons of money. 

Formfunc presents on Day 2 - Thursday 17 October at 10am in Breakaway Room 4. Formfunc will also be hosting a stand (37) at the HR Indaba.