Ergonomics done right.®
December 13th, 2012

How to get the Most out of Ergonomics Team Training

by Kent Hatcher, CPE

Ergonomics team (committee) training is often the starting point for an organization’s ergonomics initiative. Follow these tips to ensure that you are setting your ergo team up for success.

  1. Before you train, define the responsibilities.
    Good training provides the information people are looking for—great training gives them skills to fulfill their job responsibilities. Be sure to identify the specific outputs you want from the ergo team so you can direct the training to skills they will need. Are team members expected to only identify ergonomics challenges or do you expect them to put in place cost-effective solutions? Do team members need to train others in ergonomics awareness, provide engineers with design guidelines, or investigate recordable MSDs? Each of these activities requires a different skill set that should be reflected in the training program.
  2. Provide simple approaches to complex problems.
    Information on ergonomics can be difficult to apply given the intricacy of understanding human capabilities, the range of possible solutions, and the challenges of change management. To achieve genuine skill building, as opposed to diffused awareness, your training programs must focus on simple concepts in which participants can quickly gain competence.
  3. Provide easy-to-use methods.
    Ergonomics assessment methods can take 10 minutes to 10 days per job. Select evaluation techniques that are easy to learn and easy to use. Remember, your ergo team members are not on a journey to become professional ergonomists. They need tools and techniques to help them identify and resolve challenges, not data-rich analysis techniques that confuse rather than clarify. 
  4. Verify learning with hands-on activities.
    As adults, we place far greater significance on our past experiences rather than on the advice of others. Hands-on learning improves understanding and increases retention and it keeps people mentally engaged in the topic. Be sure to include plenty of hands-on exercises and case studies so that participants can practice what they are expected to apply after the training program is over.