Estimating the effectiveness of ergonomics interventions through case studies: implications for predictive cost-benefit analysis

J Safety Res. 2008;39(3):339-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2007.12.006. Epub 2008 Apr 28.


Problem: Cost-benefit analysis (CBA) can help to justify an investment in ergonomics interventions. A predictive CBA model would allow practitioners to present a cost justification to management during the planning stages, but such a model requires reliable estimates of the benefits of ergonomics interventions.

Method: Through literature reviews and Internet searches, 250 case studies that reported the benefits of ergonomics programs and control measures were collected and summarized.

Results: Commonly reported benefits included reductions in the number of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) or their incidence rate, as well as related lost workdays, restricted workdays, and workers' compensation costs. Additional benefits reported were related to productivity, quality, turnover and absenteeism.

Discussion: Benefits reported were largely positive, and payback periods for ergonomics interventions were typically less than one year.

Summary: The results of this review could be used to develop predictive CBA models for ergonomics programs and individual control measures.

Impact on industry: Cost-justifying ergonomics interventions prior to implementation may help to secure management support for proposed changes. Numbers used for the benefits side of a cost-benefit analysis (CBA) need to be based on "real world" data in order to be credible. The data presented in this paper may help in the development of simple cost-benefit models for ergonomics programs and control measures.

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Ergonomics / economics*
  • Humans
  • Models, Economic
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / economics*
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / prevention & control
  • Occupational Diseases / economics*
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control
  • Sick Leave / economics*