Ergonomics programs, if implemented the right way, naturally add value and improve performance. Not only do they reduce musculoskeletal disorders, but they can also improve productivity, quality, and operational stability. As I think about the key elements for the success of ergonomic activities, a quote from Charlie Eitel, Former CEO of Simmons, comes to mind:
“A successful initiative depends on good strategy, the right structure, and a resilient learning culture.“ – Charlie Eitel
Here are a few “must dos” that clearly align with Charlie’s findings on successful organizational initiatives.
- Establish a program sponsor within senior level management. The program sponsor provides long-term vision and ongoing consistent support, and also holds people accountable for completing assigned tasks.
- Establish common metrics and key performance indicators. Metrics drive ergonomic assessment and improvement activities. One such recommended metric is risk reduction—a leading indicator of results. It requires taking baseline assessments to identify operations with the highest risk-factor exposure, implementing improvements, and conducting follow-up assessments, all using a quantifiable tool.
- Manage ergonomics as an improvement process. Plan-Do-Check-Act is a commonly-adopted process model. Organizing and executing your ergonomics program activities using such a model will provide a systematic approach, and will help align your efforts with other organizational initiatives.
- Leverage technology platforms to track, report, and demonstrate results and best practices across the organization.
- Last and perhaps most important, treat ergonomics as an engineering discipline. In doing so, the focus shifts to the design of workstations, equipment, and products, rather than the treatment of employees after they are injured. It matures your program to a proactive state.
Cardinal Health, a Humantech client and Fortune 100 company that improves the cost-effectiveness of healthcare, understands this. The elements listed above are core to its ergonomics program, which has led to significant gains and recognition. During our upcoming webinar on August 25th, we will highlight more details. Specific strategies and tactics will be shared related to the implementation or enhancement of a successful global ergonomics program.