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Success with Ergonomics
Sun Microsystems, Inc.

State: California
Company: Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Industry: Computer equipment/systems - SIC Code: 35
Employees: 13,000

Success Brief: From 1992 to 2002 the number, severity, and cost of workers’ compensation claims for the so-called “repetitive motion injuries” dropped, despite significant increases in the total number of employees. Such claims went from a high of nearly 300 in 1993 to less than 50 in the first nine months of 2002, and a total cost exceeding $1.5 million in 1992 to a total cost of less than $100,000 in the first nine months of 2002. The average cost to close a work-related, musculoskeletal disorder disability claim dropped from more than $12,000 in 1992 to $2,500 in 2002.*

The Problem
In 1993, the number of perceived work-related musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) disability claims was nearly 300. The costs of such claims and the losses in productivity were of great concern to the company. Most employees claimed that their MSDs were related to prolonged computer use.

The Solution
Sun Microsystems purchased ergonomic chairs and other equipment and furniture and provided training and workstation assessments to all employees who requested them. The company stressed the importance of employees establishing and maintaining proper and comfortable work environments and work practices, particularly proper posture while working with at their workstations.

The Impact
The number of claims fell dramatically, and the average cost of such claims dropped from more than $12,000 in 1992 to $2,500 in 2002.

* While Sun Microsystems has operations worldwide and major facilities in Massachusetts and Colorado, as well as Scotland, the data shown here is exclusively for California. Workers compensation data for similar claims at the company's other locations show trends similar to those described herein.

Source: Charles F. Dolci, Director – Environment, Safety & Health, Sun Microsystems, Inc. (October 2002).
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