January 2019 Newsletter:

Ergonomic Change NOW

Automation of processes and the implementation of engineering controls that eliminate multiple ergonomic hazards are a beautiful thing. However, we understand that these processes and controls can represent a capital investment and may take time to investigate and implement. But, are there other opportunities that you can explore to effect immediate change at your workplace?

The simple answer is yes: Start with your low hanging fruit!

low hanging fruit

As ergonomists, we may recommend that you redesign a workstation, change a process or invest in a new piece of automation as the ultimate solution to addressing the ergonomic issues in a job/task. But for every high cost control you can bet there are 2 or more recommendations that are low-moderate cost that could be tackled NOW to start to mitigate the risk present.

First things first…

Speak with your Operators and workers. As the ones who perform the task or job day after day, they are the ones with the first hand knowledge regarding the ergonomic low hanging fruit that exist. Perhaps they have already implemented a make-shift solution or simple tool to better perform a task in question, which simply needs some fine tuning. Perhaps they have fantastic ergonomic plans with no idea how to address them or who to speak to. Pick their brains. It’s often the best place to start!


Don’t reinvent the wheel! It’s unlikely that anyone is expecting to come into work tomorrow morning to see a robotic arm performing their job. Consider small changes to processes and practices that reduce hazards. Some examples may include: adjusting work methods to minimize unnecessary movements, reorganizing the workstation layout to reduce reach demands (e.g. frequently used tools nearest to the body), providing re-training on proper lifting techniques, or simply ensuring staff have the proper tools for the job.

And third…

Make sure staff is trained. Training on ergonomic issues and empowering staff to address these issues in their own work day (e.g. properly adjust equipment) is key to long-term ergonomic success. The way your staff choose to do the work can have a big impact so making sure they understand the why’s and how’s about the ergonomics of their job tasks/tools is just smart.

We’re not saying that the small, easy-ish things or training are going to address all your ergonomic issues, what we’re saying is that they are a first step on the path of addressing ergonomic issues at your workplace.

Low hanging fruit are your simple ideas brought to life and really boil down to one key question: what can we do now to work smarter, not harder?

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