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Since its founding in the mid-to late 1990s, 3M Corp.'s Workspace Solutions has been turning out ergonomic products that evolved from the St. Paul, Minn.-based manufacturer's efforts to reduce discomfort and injuries among its own employees.
"We always learn a lot from our own employees," said Kaleel Ahmed, business unit manager for Workspace Solutions. "3M employees have faced the same problems that other office workers face."
In some cases, the ergonomics devices were derived in part from other products that 3M had been manufacturing for years. For example, gel-filled wrist rests for computer users incorporate the medical gel originally developed for people who were wheelchair-bound.
Although Mr. Ahmed would not disclose his division's financial contribution to 3M, he did say, "we're growing globally."
After starting out focusing on office ergonomics, the division now is developing products to address the needs of other types of workers, such as telecommuters and those whose jobs require traveling. It also is examining environmental issues, such as lighting and air quality.