A common misconception in industry is that an unsuccessful ergonomics process is due to a lack of the necessary tools to make it successful. However, many companies have the tools in house to advance their ergonomics initiatives – they just need to recognize the successes from their other processes and apply the same concepts to their ergonomics initiative!A recent article from EHSTodayfocuses on the success of Hospira Inc. (Injectable Pharmaceuticals) at reducing their carbon footprint and overall environmental waste. There are a number of steps that can be taken from this article that are often related to flourishing ergonomics processes as well:
- Set goals and create leading metrics (risk reduction, number of individuals trained, number of “red” jobs) – the first step in any ergonomics process is to set goals that are achievable
and measurable. Without this, the success of an ergonomics process has to rely on lagging metrics (e.g.injury reduction) which can take years to measure accurately.
- Management support and approval – ensure management has a strong desire to make the process successful. Put information into terms they can stand behind (return on investment, waste
reduction, increased productivity). With management buy-in, the uphill battle becomes a smooth sail.
- Financial sense – everyone needs to understand the importance of ergonomics to the bottom line and to the safety of operators. With workers compensation costs often costing millions of dollar annually, it is easy to realize that if your ergonomics process is costing you money, you’re doing it wrong.
- Follow a process (plan, do, check, act) – create and follow a model to be able to continuously improve. This will allow you to easily identify opportunities for improvement and ensure that the most effective countermeasures are implemented.
- Employee involvement – employees are the absolute experts at their jobs and often have the best improvement ideas. Their involvement is therefore a key element to the success of an ergonomics initiative. Focusing on the 30-inch view between the operators and their work environment will often result in cost savings due to rework, increased productivity, and overall improved morale.
Following these steps is a great way to kick-off an ergonomics process.
Submitted by Christy Lotz, CPE