An Argument for Ergonomic Workstations: Increased Productivity


Reprinted from The RSI Network - Issue 17 - Apr'94

Richard Donkin
April 1994

The source of this information is the book Ergonomics, Work, and Health by Stephen Pheasant (Macmillan, 1991). This book has a full list of references and has a section on the cost effectiveness of ergonomics.

To quote from the book: "Dainoff and Dainoff (1986) report an experimental study in which a VDU workstation designed according to commonly accepted ergonomic guidelines was compared with one that deliberately broke most of the rules. . . [Subjects] performed an experimental task involving data entry and editing under realistic conditions. A composite performance measure was used which took into account both speed and errors, and the subjects were paid by results. Performance was 25% higher at the ergonomically designed workstation; and when differences in lighting were eliminated, there was still an 18% performance difference."

Ong (1984) studied data entry staff at a Singapore airline terminal before and after ergonomic changes (including lighting, document holders, footrests, and more rest pauses). Output (measured in keystrokes per hour worked) increased by 25% The error rate decreased from 1.5% to 0.1%. The output improvement occurred despite spending less time at the terminal.

A study was made on a telephone assembly plant by Spilling, Eiterheim, and Aaras, "Cost-benefit analysis of work environment investment at STK's telephone plant in Kongsvinger," 1986, published in The Ergonomics of Working Postures. By redesigning assembly workers' workstations, thus reducing RSI, the company made a phenomenal return on its investment, simply by reducing the cost of sick leave and staff turnover.

Return to Articles Index



Last Updated: 10/21/00