January 2020 Newsletter:

Success in an Ergonomics Program: 6 Key Components

6 Tips for Ergonomic Program Success

What is your ergonomics program like? Does your committee have multiple ongoing projects with support from staff and management alike? Or does your program more or less sit on the back burner for a rainy day?

A successful and well-functioning ergonomics program incorporates a few key components to implement the appropriate and long-lasting change that is needed:

1. Leadership

An ergonomics program needs a leader or group of leaders to spearhead and promote the program itself, working to address ergonomic issues within the workplace as well as obtain buy-in from management to provide the necessary resources (e.g. funding, support) to complete various initiatives. Without leaders and champions of the program, it is possible that your ergonomics program may never take flight the way it was intended.

2. Policy

There needs to be a written policy within your organization to communicate to all levels of staff, from management to front-line workers, that there is a clear goal and desire to protect workers and prevent injuries that result from ergonomic hazards within the workplace.

3. Employee Involvement

involving employees in ergonomic programs

Front-line staff are experts in the job; involve these staff members and consult with them on the issues and potential changes. It may be helpful to also keep in mind that involving employees in the ergonomics process may allow everyone to be more accepting of change. At PROergonomics, we believe that to be truly successful in ergonomics, everyone must be accountable and aware; consider providing training and education to staff to aid in identifying hazards that may result in injury.

4. Injury Review and Inspections

You’ve got both your policy and your ergonomics team in place. Now, it’s time to start implementing change. Perhaps it’s best to start with reviewing injury statistics and target those jobs or tasks with the highest injury rates first. Next, perform workplace inspections and observe for problem areas (a standardized form can help guide this process); for example, look for awkward body postures being used, excessive strain during forceful exertions (e.g. wincing when lifting items), or makeshift solutions (e.g. duct tape on equipment). These are the perfect opportunities to start with and get a few ergonomic ‘wins’ under your belt.

5. Risk Assessments

This involves taking those jobs or tasks that have been identified as ‘high-risk’ in your inspections and reviewing them in further detail to assess the ergonomics hazards (i.e. force, awkward postures, static postures, repetition) and develop viable controls to minimize likelihood of an MSD injury. With that being said, don’t be afraid to think outside the box for control measures. Sometimes what may have seemed like the most absurd idea is actually the greatest control. Just be mindful of the cost relative to the impact it will have towards reducing risk.

6. Follow-Up

evaluating an ergonomic program

This is often where ergonomic programs can fall short. Change has been implemented, but periodic follow-up was never completed. This step helps you to address potential shortcomings or to ensure that the implemented control truly has eliminated or reduced injury risk to the employees. Be sure to schedule regular follow-ups and re-evaluate (e.g. 1 month, 6 months, 1 year).

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