Healthy, Happy Employees: 2 Case Studies on Ergonomics

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A poorly designed workplace has a negative influence on workers’ creativity, productivity, and general satisfaction. Eventually, an office layout can no longer be “patched up” to meet the increased demand of tasks. There are times when you have to bring in the pros to design for healthy, happy employees.

Craig Stewart, ASP and co-owner of Kare Products, is an ergonomic specialist with 20 years of experience. Here are two different cases that Stewart evaluated and redesigned:

Case #1:

The corporate headquarters of a large medical company requested an analysis for one of its call center divisions. Nicknamed, “the dungeon,” workers complained of noise, lack of space, dust, mold, physical discomfort, injuries, and general dissatisfaction.

Without initial consideration for functional design, this phone center underwent numerous modifications over two years. Cramped workstations led to shoulder and neck injuries and the poor panel layout of the “open” office created challenges for janitorial and IT personnel.

On top of a 15 percent ergonomic injury rate, high dispersion of dust and mold had the group of 30 workers complaining of allergies and colds. Supervisors spent much of their days having to address the complaints, and employee absenteeism spiked.

New height-adjustable desks eliminated shoulder and low back complaints. Each requires only ten minutes to adjust, reducing facilities costs for set up and re-design time.

A redesigned floor plan utilizes panels and tall filing cabinets to create privacy and act as a sound barrier during phone calls. Workstations cost less and provide more storage. To address air quality and environmental concerns, we incorporated materials such as sustainable woods with no VOC out gassing and water based glues.

The result: a clean and functional environment for employees. Complaints dropped from over four per day to zero. The department is happier, more efficient, and more productive.


Case #2:

In a high-rise office building, a division of employees complained about lack of privacy and excessive noise that interfered with their ability to complete their work. An increase in lost workdays and a rise in Workers’ Compensation cases concerned the HR department.

Kare Products identified the need for a single overall design to accommodate both group interactions as well as individual workstations.

A paneling system allows easy interface with co-workers for group projects in an isolated space, reducing noise. Sit stand desk configurations with dual height adjustable monitor arms address ergonomic injuries. Modular design allows the company to reconfigure, expand, or move easily.

Green furniture with water based glues, recycled laminates and non-toxic paints create a healthier workplace. When asked, employees appreciated how uniquely each workstation fit their needs, as well as the aesthetic appeal.

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