Ergonomics done right.®
March 29th, 2016

Highlights from the 2016 Applied Ergonomics Conference

Many valuable educational sessions were offered at last week’s Applied Ergonomics Conference in Orlando. Attendees gathered from around the world to share best practices with other professionals in ergonomics, healthcare, safety, human resources and risk management. Below, we’ve summarized a few of our favorite talks from the four-day event.Booth1

Doug Christoff, Corporate Safety Manager at Myers Industries, presented “Implementation of an Enterprise-Wide Ergonomics Improvement Process.” Myers Industries is an international manufacturer of polymer-based material handling products and a wholesale distributor of tire repair and retread products. During his presentation, Doug shared his company’s approach to implementing an ergonomics process across 15 manufacturing and distribution locations in North America. He explained the challenges prior to implementation and specific strategies/tactics related to the implementation. Some key learnings:

  • Select the right third-party vendor and tools: This is critical for most companies who are in the process of implementing an ergonomics program. Selecting the right vendor and tools is imperative and will eventually lead to the success of the program.
  • Define the ergonomics process and standardize approach for all locations: As Edwards Deming said, “If you can‘t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.” Foundation documentation as well as defining the roles, responsibilities and metrics of the ergonomics process play a big role in systematically deploying the process across all locations.
  • Leverage technology and provide skills training for site personnel: Providing training to the site ergonomics team to empower them to conduct assessments, identify improvements and conduct follow-up assessments. Overall, using a system to track and share best practices across all locations.

Jasper Titus, Associate Director of Safety & Health at The Kraft Heinz Company, presented “Managing an Ergonomics Improvement Initiative at Kraft Heinz.” During the 40-minute session, Jasper shared Kraft’s journey with ergonomics over the past few years, prior to their merger with Heinz. In addition to providing a look behind their injury stats, Jasper was able to share some of their current metrics and processes that are used to transition their organization from a reactive program to a proactive process. Key learnings:

  • Standardize and adopt industry-accepted tools for use at all sites. This allows you to compare apples to apples and have one set of common tools used across the organization.
  • Adopt and use ergonomic design guidelines. Hold engineers accountable for using ergonomic design guidelines early in the design process for equipment, tools, and workstation layout.
  • Develop a foolproof management of change process. This is especially important for new processes or new layouts; instead of a check-the-box process, ensure everyone understands the importance of management of change.

Humantech Ergonomist Blake McGowan delivered a 40-minute presentation titled, “Research Review: ACGIH® Hand Activity Level (HAL) TLV® for Predicting Carpal Tunnel Disorders.”  Blake provided a succinct summary of the inputs, data collection challenges, outputs, and interpretation of the risk assessment.  Here are some key lessons from the presentation:

  • The ACGIH® Hand Activity Level (HAL) TLV® risk assessment tool is a reliable and accurate method.
  • It is a valid tool for predicting carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS).
  • Research continues to modify the equation to better predict risk and CTS.