One of the reasons ergonomics initiatives fail is that companies tend to jump right into training their teams and performing workplace assessments without first having a plan in place. Here are my tips based on Humantech’s five-step Engagement Model—our proven approach for developing a world-class ergonomics process—to help you determine whether your company is ready for ergonomics training.
The Five-Step Engagement Model
Step 1: Understand where the holes are
What do you currently have in place in terms of time, money, and resources in order to address ergonomics issues? And what’s missing? You need to understand the difference between your actual performance and your desired performance. Completing a gap analysis on your current ergonomics process is a great first step.
Greg’s tip: From a training perspective, identify who currently has the necessary skills, and who needs to level-up through a training program.
Step 2: Know where you are headed
Set goals. Then put together a detailed plan to achieve those goals. Many companies skip this step. Use leading metrics that are important to your company to track progress, rather than lagging metrics such as injury history. Build the goals into your company’s ergonomics policy, and assign accountability based on individual roles and responsibilities.
Greg’s Tip: Set a positive goal based on leading metrics. For example, 100% of jobs have had an ergonomic assessment, and have been reduced to an MSD risk level that is financially and technically feasible.
Step 3: Gain the support you need
This is a critical step. Having the support of your company’s leadership team is going to determine whether your initiative is successful or not. If it’s important to leadership, it will be very apparent. Support must come from the top.
Greg’s Tip: To get full participation in the ergonomics training program, have the invitation come directly from leadership.
Step 4: Get it done
So, you’ve successfully accomplished the first three steps? Now you’re ready for ergonomics training. Train the ergonomics team appropriately based on how involved they will be in the process.
Greg’s Tip: Training should include learning verification to ensure that the information and skills were transferred effectively. To borrow a quote from the Toyota Production System, “If the student hasn’t learned, the instructor hasn’t taught.”
Step 5: Make sure it works
Was the training effective? Set a timeline to go back and audit the process. When first launching your initiative, formal evaluation should occur more frequently. Monthly check-ins at 30, 60, and 90 days are appropriate to make sure that the team is on track. Once the process stabilizes, audit every six to twelve months, and make adjustments as necessary.
Greg’s Tip: Your audit criteria should be based on the goals you set in Step 2. Use key performance indicators that are well-documented to verify your progress.