Common Ergonomics Misconceptions
As an ergonomics consultant, I visit facilities across the country with ergonomics processes at varying stages of development. At sites with less exposure to ergonomics, there are a few misconceptions that I consistently encounter. Check out this list and compare it to your facility. Have you fallen victim to some of these myths?
1. “Ergonomics is about repetitive jobs.” This is the most common myth I hear. While repetition is certainly a known risk factor for MSDs, research currently shows that awkward postures and forceful exertions are bigger components overall. Specifically, the largest magnitude of an awkward posture or high force in a day will result in the highest risk level.
2. “Ergonomics is the safety team’s responsibility.” The result of poor workplace design is injury, so the safety team is often tasked with solving that problem. However, workplace design is inherently an engineering discipline. Benchmarking studies show that a proactive and sustainable ergonomics process involves stakeholders from multiple disciplines throughout the organization and is driven top-down by an accountable leader.
3. “Employee opinions won’t help.” Clients are sometimes surprised when our consultants spend so much time interacting with the employees who do the job. But here’s the thing: the employee is the expert. They know about the job, have experienced the pain points, and often have ideas about how to make things better. Subjective methods provide insight to balance quantitative data.