4 Tips for Developing Sustainable Ergonomics Improvements
Michael Hoonhorst 2/21/19
Humantech uses a simple job improvement process: Find It, Fix It, Check It, Sustain It. The order of the process elements is as important as the process elements themselves, with Fix It and Sustain It being the most significant. Remember this: just because you “fix” something doesn’t mean it’s sustainable.
In my experience, the most difficult part of the ergonomics process is implementing effective solutions. High capital requirements or scarce resources, such as engineering time or line stoppages to install equipment or introduce process changes, are big barriers for ergonomics teams. Another barrier is efficiency; if a solution is too difficult or inconvenient to implement, it may not be used.
To ensure your solutions are good ones, follow these four tips:
Solve the right problem. Just because you’ve introduced a new piece of equipment or a new process doesn’t mean the problem will be solved. Be sure to complete a risk assessment and a direct cause analysis to confirm your solution reduces or eliminates the cause of the risk.
Ask the operator what is wrong with the task and for a recommended solution. If he or she has ownership of the solution, it is more likely to be used and sustained in the future.
Host a brainstorming session with a cross-functional team to develop new ideas and solutions. Assembling a group with different perspectives and backgrounds is key to establishing a list of solid improvement options. And, don’t underestimate the value of a small improvement; it can be just as impactful, while more cost-effective, as a large one.
Follow up after the improvement has been implemented to quantify risk reduction and verify that the fix was effective.
The most important advice: if a solution does not work, don’t give up. Go back to the drawing board and try again. You got this!