How do I sustain the momentum in our ergonomics process?
Michael Hoonhorst 10/19/16
It’s exciting when you begin to implement an ergonomics process. There’s a flurry of activity and things are getting done. Then …your process stalls. So what do you do? How do you ensure that the ergonomics process is sustainable? Here are four key steps that can help you sustain it and ensure that it is fully integrated and embedded into your organization.
Develop documentation. One of the most important aspects of your ergonomics process is a written plan. The expectations described in this documentation should be reviewed and supported by leadership. People throughout the organization will also need to know what role they play in the ergonomics process and what their commitments are. Here are two types of documents that are often included:
– A policy establishes the minimum requirements for an integrated, effective, and sustainable process that will help protect employees from risk factors that cause injury. The policy describes what you plan to do.
– A guidance document provides direction on how to establish the ergonomics process to meet the requirements of the policy. The guidance document describes how you are going to do it.
2. Make it easy to communicate. People should know what the ergonomics process is and what it does. Document and then share workplace changes including “before” and “after” photos that clearly show the changes.
3. Get everyone involved. Sometimes, ergonomics is owned by too few—often, just the health and safety department. An integrated approach that includes leadership, engineers, procurement, and employees is best. How do we vet new equipment to ensure that it does not introduce MSD risk? How do we determine if existing equipment is risk-free? What about tools and machines that are purchased and installed? Everyone should be working toward a common goal of identifying and reducing risk factors.
4. Measure it. How do you know if the ergonomics process is working? It is important to use leading metrics, and not just lagging ones, to identify successes. Metrics should be transparent, tracked, and shared regularly. There are many metrics that can help describe the health of the ergonomics process, such as:
– Percentage of workstations at low/no risk. You can use this measurement to determine if work areas still need improvement. It helps answer the question “Where are we now?” Your goal should be to have 100% of workstations at low/no risk.
– Percent reduction of MSD risk level. Higher percentages indicate that improvement activities are being completed and are, in fact, reducing MSD risk. This measurement helps answer the question “Are we going in the right direction?” Your goal should be 100% MSD risk reduction.
These four steps will help you fully establish your ergonomics process at your site, which will ensure that excitement turns into progress.