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RR491 - Cost benefit studies that support tackling musculoskeletal disorders

Twenty nine case studies are presented demonstrating ergonomics interventions carried out in organisations to reduce the risks of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Of these, twenty one quantify the costs of the intervention and the benefits that have been gained. The case studies illustrate ways in which investments in reducing musculoskeletal risks have resulted in financial benefits to the company through cost savings, or increased productivity and quality of output.

The case studies have been drawn from a range of industries. The ergonomic interventions took a variety of forms, from addressing the design of the task, the equipment, workstation and environment, to the organisational context in which the work was done. The studies that have been produced vary in complexity and magnitude, containing within their scope simple and inexpensive fixes to aspects of a job, and major projects involving several personnel and quite significant capital outlay.

Benefits were clear to see when a company was already incurring costs due to sub-optimal task design or workplace organisation. Where benefits were difficult to quantify, testimonials were used to describe the benefits.

It is hoped that by making the business case for ergonomic interventions this will promote the benefits of a proactive approach to managing MSD risks.

This report and the work it describes were funded by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Its contents, including any opinions and/or conclusions expressed, are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect HSE policy.

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Updated 2009-05-05