In the series Ergo U: Ergonomics Research Notes from the Field Humantech ergonomist Blake McGowan meets with ergonomics researchers from leading universities and associations across the country to share their latest findings.
Field Notes: Blake had the opportunity to meet with Dr. Emile Tompa from the Institute of Work & Health in Toronto, Canada to discuss the economic impact of participatory ergonomics interventions. Tompa focuses on advancing methods in the measurement of societal burdens, and the economic evaluation of programs and policies directed at improving the health and well-being of individuals and populations.
Blake’s Take: “It is rare to meet an economist studying the benefits of ergonomics, especially of Emile’s talent. He brings a unique set of skills to the field of ergonomics. Of course, we both agree that there are many benefits of ergonomics initiatives and interventions, including employee well-being and business performance. What’s needed though is the development of an economic model to help safety professionals and practitioners justify and support the deployment of an on-going systematic ergonomics initiative. Many companies are missing that piece.”
Additional Notes: Previously, Emile received the Applied Ergonomics Best Paper Award for his research study, “Economic evaluation of a participatory ergonomics intervention in a textile plant.” The results suggest that participatory ergonomics interventions can be cost beneficial, with a benefit-to-cost ratio of 5.5. This indicates that the ergonomics intervention is worth undertaking based on the costs and consequences over the long term.
About the Expert: Dr. Emile Tompa is a labor and health economist and a senior scientist at the Institute for Work & Health. His research interests include the consequences of occupational health and safety system design on the health and well-being of individuals and populations, the economic evaluation of workplace interventions for improving the health and well-being of workers, the economic burden of adverse health conditions and disabilities, and the analysis of disability policy systems. He received a Master of Business Administration from the University of British Columbia, a Master of Arts degree in economics from the University of Toronto, and a PhD in economics from McMaster University.