Financial point of view

Overview: You or the company

The financial issues of ergonomic solutions have to be viewed in two different ways, even if the conclusions result in the same gains and losses. The two perspectives we address of an individual and of a person buying for a company. This is why you will see some paragraphs speaking to"you"and others to "the company."

Mouse arm syndrome can have serious financial implications both for individuals who are unable to work and for companies who end up paying high costs to rehabilitate an employee, while facing rising costs for workers' compensation. A work space that is set up correctly with proper ergonomic equipment and an awareness of the dangers of bad habits can dramatically reduce costs and sick pay and improve quality.

Your investment, life and future

If you have a job you love, you've no doubt invested time, money and hard work to reach this position. You are good at what you do, and you get better every day. Your investment in your job is usually the largest you have made, although you may not think of it that way.

Often the first time an individual thinks about this investment is when something happens to change every-day life. In some cases, work-related injuries force a person to entirely quit the job he or she has worked so hard to get. A graphic designer who has spent thousands of hours in front of a computer screen during university studies and in a professional career may find this work is resulting in wrist pain. Thousands of secretaries around the world feel shoulders and arm pain the minute they sit down at their computer. These conditions affect working people in every category, regardless of age, sex, education or ethical backgrounds.

In the worst case, a person may be forced to quit a job, not because of a sudden trauma like a car accident, but because of an invisible, work-related injury like mouse arm syndrome. When you are in pain, $100 for a mouse or $2,000 for a table is not an issue because it allows you to return to a job you love. Pain is a motivating factor.

Fortunately, most people are not in pain. If you are without pain, you may think a $100 mouse or a $2,000 table is a lot of money compared with traditional tools. It is always harder to convince people to protect themselves when nothing has happened. Education is the only way to help people understand the ergonomic risks they are exposed to every day.

Proactive people, with future goals in mind, usually realize how much time, money and energy they have invested in their current job, including years of education and career moves. Work-related injuries can easily be reduced by common sense and awareness of the dangers at your work place, both home and at work.

Educate yourself about the risks and see what you can do to protect yourself against possible injuries. We only ask one thing, that you understand the concept of ergonomics in your life. No one else look after you when you work at your computer, at work or at home.

The company investment

From a corporate perspective, you either need help one or more employees in a reactive situation - people in pain - or you need to defend the case for a proactive ergonomic investment, since the cost of ergonomic equipment is higher than traditional solutions.

In a reactive situation, the priority is finding a solution. In these cases we refer you to the medical point of view, and to research and studies to understand the methodology and use of Trackbar Emotion. Dealing with injured employees often leads a company to efforts to find ways to improve the work place and avoid future injuries for others. This not only results in lower Workers'Compensation rates and reduces loss of staff, but in creating an overall safer work environment, a company puts itself in a stronger position in any future legal matters by showing it has done its best to assure safety in the work place.

Companies secure their future by investing in employees, and hiring the best they can find. The cost of recruiting people is high but the return on this investment is unquestionable. Companies also invest in technology to assure their future success. It may be hard to evaluate the return of these investments, but we know this is necessary to keep the company competitive.

Machines do not break down any more, people do. Injuries related to computer mice often occur when a person works more than five hours a day in front of the computer screen. These users are defined as "frequent computer users." The two essential investments a company must consider in regard to its staff are education and ergonomics. Ergonomic investments are the bridges between the operator and the machine.

Today's companies invest substantial amounts of money in training employees and providing equipment. In the case of key employees, this investment is even more significant. It all may be lost, however, if the employee in question develops carpal tunnel syndrome or another condition that greatly reduces his or her capability to work, or, even worse, makes work impossible altogether. In this scenario, the company not only loses the money invested in the employee, but more importantly, the key knowledge and abilities of this employee.

For a company with a large group of frequent computer users, CTS poses a serious financial threat. Investing in ergonomically correct tools, like Trackbar Emotion, can provide insurance against loss of employees, time and money.

Personal investment

Today everyone invests a significant amount of money and time in their career. University tuition, long years of study and the energy you've spent working towards your dream job – these are all valuable decisions you've made that cannot be undone. If you end up facing the serious implications of CTS and you can't do your job, all the time, energy and money spent on yourself and your career will be devalued. You may have to give up on your dream even before you managed to fulfill it.

The pure personal loss of having to give up something you have been working towards your entire grown-up life is impossible to calculate. The financial loss, however, is easy to determine. While you may be compensated by your insurance and just end up facing the medical implications, in the worst case, you may face a total change of lifestyle. Either way, it makes a personal investment in tools like a Trackbar Emotion, worth considering.

Legal implications

The US economy is no stranger to lawsuits and specifically class action lawsuits. Research on the relationship between frequent computer use and RSI and CTS has existed for two decades, and research showing how to reduce theses risks has been around for almost as long. Still, however, most companies neglect these serious risks, and people continue to suffer injuries. We believe it is only a matter of time before the first major lawsuit is filed in the U.S. by someone who suffers CTS due to a poor workplace. Chances are this will skyrocket into a monumental class action lawsuit.

Ergonomics and politics

Both Australia and the Scandinavian countries now have strict laws requiring employers to buy ergonomically correct equipment, and the laws leave no room for negotiations. Canada is heading this way as well, and Germany, Holland, England and other European countries appear poised to follow with ergonomic legislation. In the U.S., President Barak Obama has said he favors implementing a national ergonomic policy. Although it’s difficult to estimate how soon all of this will take place, it is a safe bet that sooner or later industrialized countries will have laws requiring employers to provide ergonomic solutions for workers.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers'Compensation laws are designed to ensure that employees who are injured or disabled on the job receive fixed monetary awards, thus eliminating the need for litigation. Most companies regard paying Workers' Compensation as a cost of doing business. There are, however, many ways of managing the amount a company pays for Workers’ Compensation. The cost depends on the number of claims the company has filed. A larger number of claims greatly increases the cost for the Workers'Compensation.

Since CTS is the second most common work-related injury in the US, and is also the injury that keeps employees away from their work for the second longest period of time, CTS has a huge effect on the cost for workers’ compensation. According to the National Council of Compensation Insurance, the average cost for a CTS case is $33,000. In this perspective, we believe by using ergonomically advanced tools like Trackbar Emotion, a company reduces the risks of CTS and thereby lowers its Workers’ Compensation costs in an inexpensive and effective way.

Return on investment

According to the Clayton Group, in 2001 ergonomics related injuries accounted for more than 40 percent of all workplace-related injuries. This not only resulted in a significant loss of time but in $20 billion in direct costs to U.S. companies, according to Liberty Mutual's safety index. Statistics also show that workplace related injuries are growing less common – but that the cost of these injuries continues to rise.

Research by NCCI shows that CTS ranks as the second most common reason for lost time in the work place, after back injuries. In terms of the total costs of all claims, CTS also ranks second, but compared to back strain cases, CTS claimants are more likely to be more highly paid. According to the National Centre for Health Statistics, nearly 260,000 carpal tunnel release operations are performed each year. About 47 percent of these are work related.

Considering the incidence and cost for CTS cases, the return on investment in ergonomic equipment that diminishes the risk for it is huge. In addition to the financial benefits, reducing the risk of CTS also keeps down the employee turnover, retains knowledge in the organization and reduces the energy spent on hiring new personnel. The prevention of just one single case of CTS will make any ergonomic investment worth the money many times over.

Quality

Generally quality and productivity are seen as strategic management issues, while ergonomics is not. Research, however, by Jörgen Eklund at Linköping University in Sweden shows that ergonomics is an important determinant for quality. The same research also argues that the effect quality has on the bottom line in the P&L is a better basis for arguing ergonomics than productivity. Mr. Eklund shows that ergonomics has a direct influence on individual’s performance and gives examples of how this affects quality in the work space.

The theories behind Total Quality Management (TQM) are based on four basic assumptions: improved quality is profitable; people want to do a high quality job; all the parts of an organization are highly interdependent; and quality is the responsibility of top management.
The ultimate goal for a company is success and profitability, and the research behind TQM shows that quality directly affects the profitability of a company. To simplify the argument, the research by Mr. Eklund demonstrates the direct relationship between ergonomics and quality, and since quality directly affects profitability, ergonomics and the working conditions for the employees becomes a direct driver of profitability.