“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” These are the wise words of Peter Drucker. And they are true for many aspects of life; your personal finances, your career path, operation of a business, and yes even ergonomic improvements. The challenge is using the right measures to drive and manage your ergonomics improvement process.
Unfortunately, many well-meaning safety professionals continue to use the lagging measure of Injury/Illness Rate (e.g. OSHA Recordable Rate, and DART Rate) as the main measure for ergonomics. We know from experience and research that this lagging measure is a poor predictor of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and losses resulting from a poorly-designed work space. A better metric is the level of exposure to MSD risk factors in a task. Like other industrial hygiene exposure samplings methods, this provides a prediction of when the highest chances of developing an MSD are, allowing action to be taken to prevent the injury. Measuring and tracking the level of MSD risk in a job enables you to identify where an MSD injury could occur, and take action proactively to prevent occurrence.