Ergonomics done right.®
February 10th, 2011

Is Your Ergonomics Program as Effective as It Could Be?

The recent literature review,  Estimating the Effectiveness of Ergonomic Interventions, by Rick Goggins (WISHA) got us thinking about the effectiveness of some of the programs we’ve had the pleasure to be involved with.  There are definitely some key points to take away from the article and, as you read through them, think about your current ergonomics process and how effective it has been.

Most of the findings support what we at Humantech believe, and it’s nice to see other CPEs coming to the same conclusion:

  • DLI (2000) – Average 50% reduction in WMSDs, 64% reduction in related costs, and average payback period < 1 year.
  • Tompa et al (2007) – Offices, healthcare, transportation, manufacturing/warehousing all have solid (moderate to strong) evidence of cost effectiveness.
  • Martimo (2008) – No evidence for back injury prevention from training/equipment (back belts). So put those back belts away!
  • Many of the reports focused on the impact that ergonomics had on productivity as opposed to reduction in injuries or costs associated with those injuries.  That is a direction that I really like to see companies go in because it’s much more effective from a management stand point.
  • Payback period for comprehensive programs was half the time of an individual countermeasure (2.5 months versus 5 months).

This might be an opportunity to share some of your company’s success and how you report. Do you usually use WMSD records or cost reduction as your measure of success? Have you ever presented ergonomics from a productivity standpoint? Are you addressing ergonomics company or site wide or is it sporadic and reactive?