Ergonomics done right.®
June 8th, 2012

Q&A From ASSE Ergonomics Presentation

by Christy Lotz, CPE

Christy Lotz, CPEThis week, I attended the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) Annual Conference in Denver, CO.  This was my first visit to ASSE. I participated in a couple of ways throughout the week. The first day, I presented “Engaging Engineers: The Key to Effective Workplace Ergonomics”.   Here’s a summary of the Q&A section of my presentation:

Q: What role do engineers have in ergonomics?

A: Engineers should be involved from a ‘proactive’ standpoint and an ‘advanced’ standpoint.  We know that engineers are effective during root cause analysis, and in determining a good solution for a current problem. However, they must also be involved from a new product introduction standpoint in order to ensure that new ergonomic issues are not introduced to operators.

Q: How does engineering fit into ergonomics programs?

A:  More advanced companies involve ergonomics early in design phases before ergonomic issues become a problem for operators.  Our benchmarking studies have made us aware that the best performers integrate ergonomics into engineering.

Q: What metrics are used to drive engineers to participate in ergonomics?

A: Consider using metrics such as gate reviews and ensure that ergonomics is considered during all phases on a new design. Some examples may include: no new “red” jobs introduced, reduce risk at current processes by 50%, improve 3 red jobs etc.

Q: What are the training needs for engineers?

A: Engineers should go through advanced ergonomic design classes that focus on designing for ergonomics in assembly (DfEA). They need to be shown examples of good vs. poor ergonomic design in their environment.

Q: How are efforts and gains sustained?

A: Data is key.  How do you measure performance without at least two data points? Sustaining your ergonomic efforts requires quantitative methods, integrating ergonomics into existing processes (make it part of the culture), and creating standards/guidelines to hold people accountable.

The second day I spent my time at the Humantech booth in the Exhibition hall.  I was able to walk around a little and view a couple of products that are related to ergonomics, including the Ultra Lift Power Hand Truck.   The last day of the conference for me was Wednesday and I was able to present with Walt Rostykus on the results of Humantech’s benchmarking study.  We had  a great turnout for this presentation and some really good questions at the end.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with the ASSE conference. It was well-organized, and had good speaker and vendor diversity. If you’re involved with workplace safety and health, this is a great conference to consider.  If you’ve been to ASSE or other conferences, how does it rank? What do you think is the best conference to attend for safety? Ergonomics?