Whether you are kicking off an ergonomics process, or have been at it for several years, it is important to understand the keys to success. Described below are the various stages companies go through and targeted milestones to achieve continued success.
The best way to begin a new ergonomics process is by clearly defining and sharing goals and objectives for the deployment. Without these, the best laid plans can get derailed. To get started on your journey, add these milestones to the top of your to-do list:
- Draft standard and guidance documents to provide program visibility and set metrics to track. Review them annually to keep them accurate and working as intended.
- Train employees at every level, from leaders and engineers to those analyzing jobs, so that the right people have the skills and tools to be productive in the job improvement process.
- Visibly track and monitor progress through the job improvement process. If you set goals, you need metrics; assign an owner to track and share them internally to sustain the process over time.
This phase occurs after companies move beyond training and the initial practice to job analysis and tracking. While it’s great to analyze a lot of jobs, it’s time to push beyond completing assessments to making job improvements.
- Establish improvement goals (for example, number of implemented job improvements) and note them in your annual goal review. Focus your energy on risk reduction through follow-up assessments.
- Create a cross-functional ergonomics team to execute the goals. Include people from all departments and roles, including upstream design and engineering, operators, and facilities and maintenance personnel. Provide the resources to support them and give them ownership of the process.
Mature companies have mastered all the milestones above and have recognized certain individuals as ergonomics champions. To maintain the momentum, work toward mastering these milestones:
- Continue to train new team members and offer opportunities for advanced training to ergonomics champions. Input from new members can be valuable during reassessment activities.
- Reassess jobs every few years for possible changes to the work area or job process. Momentum is the name of the game. It’s important to keep it going even as you see job assessment scores drop. Mature companies often look beyond the full job assessment data, and drill down to the body area scores as they set their goals.
- Proactively incorporate ergonomics into the design phase. Over time, processes shift from retroactively modifying existing workstations to proactively designing them based on ergonomics guidelines, ultimately to remove the risk.
Maximizing your progress at each stage is the key driving a sustainable process. If you skipped a milestone above, add it to your current stage. These steps are just good ergonomics “habits” that you can adopt at any time during your process.