Ergo Myth: Great Equipment Means You’ve Eliminated the Risk
by Ryan Cowart, AEP
So you’ve finally done it! You’ve begun your ergonomics initiative, identified and quantified the risk in the workplace, completed the purchase order for materials, and installed the new shiny equipment at the workstation. There’s just one problem—your employees are still providing negative feedback about the job. The root cause: no training was provided to the employees about the value of ergonomics or how to perform the job with the new equipment! This seems like a step you would never forget, but in my experience, things like this tend to fall through the cracks.
Yes, ergonomics is about taking the time to identify risk and improve the workplace through a mix of engineering, administrative, and best practice controls. But if you don’t communicate the value and strategy of an ergonomics process to those who will be directly impacted, buy-in will not occur, and even less of your efforts will be appreciated throughout the facility. It is very important that you not only communicate the reasons for the changes, but also provide your employees with the training to perform the job with the new equipment and tools. Maybe they didn’t know that the new lift table also tilts, which would reduce their back discomfort and time on task.
Of course, lift tables are just an example of what could be installed in a work area, but the point is that humans are great at adapting to their environments and may take the path of least resistance. Setting up a formal training session or holding a team meeting to talk about the value of such improvements could be the difference between a starting a yearly ergonomics project and establishing a world-class ergonomics process at your organization.