Ergonomics done right.®
April 19th, 2016

Build A Foundation for Ergonomics Success

In past articles, we’ve highlighted various components of Humantech’s five-step Engagement Model but, this time around, I wanted to focus on one aspect of step two (Foundation). Though Foundation for Ergonomics Successit may seem like trivial writing exercises and simply pulling documents together, getting the foundation right is one of the keys to having a sustainable process in the long term. It’s no different than making sure you have a solid foundation before building a house!

Let’s take a look at four important documents that are part of the foundation of your ergonomics process:

  • Policy: A high-level statement of top management’s commitment to, and belief in, ergonomics and the control of MSD risk factors
  • Standard: A common set of requirements for the process, which typically includes purpose, scope, common goal and measures, roles and responsibilities, and minimum requirements
  • Guidance Document: Supporting documentation on how sites can meet the minimum requirements, usually in the form of guidelines or procedures that can be technical in nature or process-related
  • Audit Criteria: Typically mirror the requirements established in the Standard, describing how a site will be measured and held accountable

Also keep in mind these three considerations when looking at your foundation documents:

  • Terminology: Use vernacular that is common throughout your organization. If other initiatives within your organization are driven by “directives” rather than “standards,” use the same terminology to stay consistent.
  • Flexibility: The Policy is a very generic statement (30,000 foot view), while the Standard provides more structure and requirements (3,000 foot view), and Guidance Documents and Audit Criteria provide even more granular levels of detail. This hierarchical level of detail should allow flexibility at the site level to establish a site-specific plan.
  • Communication: The best-laid plans are meaningless unless they are communicated to all employees. Create campaigns around launching (or re-launching) the process and ensure that employees at all levels (from the C-suite, to general management, to hourly employees) understand the goals of the process.

The foundation is critical for establishing and sustaining site ergonomic improvement processes, especially for organizations with multiple locations. It ensures that everyone is working toward a common goal, with consistent approaches, while allowing for flexibility to scale a site program to the resources and needs of the organization. Check out our next live webinar on May 3, on this very topic and more.