Ergonomics done right.®
September 16th, 2009

Facilities Managers play an important role in improving workplace ergonomics

Walt Submitted by Walt Rostykus, B.S., MSPH, CIH, CSP, CPE

The article titled “ Safety Pays” caught  my eye in the
May edition of Today’s Facility Manager magazine
It is comforting to know that facility managers are engaged with and know that
they can impact safety in the workplace.  But as I read the article I
realized the need for these and other managers to be up to date and current on
effective and valid safety practices.

I encourage you to read the article yourself.  Two
themes really caught my attention:  the dependence on injury data and cost
as a true measure of ROI, and the lack of engineering approach to address
ergonomic issues.

Injury/illness loss data (rates) and trends are a good way
of tracking past performance.  Unfortunately they are a measure of
consequences which does not allow one to anticipate and prevent injuries and
losses from happening.  A better and effective metric for reducing losses
(and costs) is to manage the level of risk.  Workplace risks (hazard +
exposure) are measured every day.  For example, noise levels (dosimetry)
results are compared with the OSHA standard; samples of respirable dusts,
vapors, and airborne chemicals are measured and compared to thresholds
established by the ACGIH and OSHA; ergonomic risk factors are measured and
compared to the limitations of human performance with the NIOSH Lifting
Equation, BRIEF, and REBA.  These three ergonomic assessment methods
measure exposure to the three primary risk factors for WMSDs: awkward posture,
high force, and duration/frequency (time).  The lessons for Facilities
Managers is “Measure the impact of the work environment you manage based on
risk, not consequences”
.  It is the only way you’ll get ahead of the
curve, from reaction to preventive.

Watch for an upcoming post about the lack of engineering approach…