Of all the challenges our clients experience when rolling out an ergonomics process, one of the easiest to remedy is the job assessment process and the time spent collecting information on MSD risk, critical dimensions, and operator feedback. Here are three keys on how to conduct a job assessment:
Ask the operator – Because ergonomics focuses on designing the work area to fit the person, it’s important to understand that some of the best data you can gather comes from the conversations you have with the people performing the jobs. Make sure you introduce yourself, explain why you have come to that specific work area, and help them understand the anticipated results of your time together.
Listen well – Don’t pretend to know the intricacies of an operator’s job, even though you may understand the tasks and physical layout of the workstation very well. Employees can recognize when you’re “checked out” while interacting with them. Show interest in the operation by asking questions, and ask them to highlight difficult aspects of the job and their thoughts on how to improve its current state.
Try the job – If possible, try the job you are observing to better understand the physical demands required to complete the work. This also helps you consider whether or not there are excessive forces exerted during the operation. One step often overlooked is taking exact measurements of the weights and forces, which are commonly underestimated by operators.
Don’t underestimate the value of an operator’s feedback in resolving the challenges they experience. Take note of their comments, and who knows…maybe their ideas will change the way you work too.