A practical and cost-effective workplace ergonomics process can be a major contribution to your company’s competitiveness in the marketplace.
The many benefits of ergonomics are clear and supported by a growing body of research.
The costs of not pursuing excellence in ergonomics, safety and health are simply too high to ignore. But for many companies, getting started with ergonomics can seem like a Herculean task. The ergonomics process has many components, stakeholders and data points to track and manage.
That’s where an effective and sustainable ergonomics team comes in. An ergonomics team is tasked with managing the ergonomics process, measuring the results and continuously improving the process.
It’s important to build a sustainable and results-oriented team to manage the ergonomics process. Following are six steps to build an ergonomics team that gets results and lasts the test of time.
1. Obtain Management’s Full Support
As with any other process, it’s important to get upper management buy-in. Without this support, it will be difficult for the ergonomics team to get the traction it needs to produce tangible results.
Ergonomics isn’t only about identifying risk. It’s about making cost-effective improvements to the workplace. These changes often require support and resources from management. Not having this support will lead to a frustrating experience for everyone on the ergonomics team and enthusiasm for the process will quickly fade.
Get management support first and identify a leader who is responsible for the ergonomics and MSD prevention process!
(For more on this topic, read How to Get More Support for Your Ergonomics Process)
2. Have the Right People on the Team
The ergonomics process should by “owned by many.” Involving more people in the ergonomics improvement process brings more expertise and resources to the table. For example, your process can benefit from the input and expertise from many people within your organization such as engineers, supervisors and team members on the shop floor.
Yes, team members on the shop floor should be included in the ergonomics process and have representation on the ergonomics team! They are the ones doing the work day in and day out, and they have a “real world” perspective regarding job tasks and physical demands. It only makes sense that they are experts regarding the job tasks being evaluated, and can provide valuable insights with respect to ergonomic evaluation and improvement.
3. Define and Communicate Responsibilities
Make sure to clearly communicate everyone’s responsibilities for the ergonomics process. They should understand their role in the process and know how they will be held accountable for that role.
Roles and responsibilities should be included your written ergonomics process guidelines.
4. Educate and Train the Members of the Team
All members of the team must have the education and training they need to successfully perform their responsibilities for the ergonomics process.
Classroom training should be customized for each role of the team and be performed regularly to improve comprehension and catch up newer members of the team. Classroom training should be followed up with practical, hands-on learning to ensure that team members have learned the core learning objectives and can apply them in a real-world environment.
5. Be Productive
We’ve all sat through poorly run meetings where nothing seems to get done. Don’t let this happen when the ergonomics team gets together for a meeting!
Run productive meetings that begin with an organized agenda and end with clear takeaways and action steps. When people leave the meeting, they should understand the tasks they need to accomplish before the next meeting.
6. Report Results and Celebrate Success
It cannot be stressed enough that ergonomics is not just about conducting ergonomic assessments. It’s about making cost-effective improvements to the workplace that reduce injury risk and improve productivity (among many other benefits).
Tracking and reporting results is an absolute must. This ensures the ergonomics team is held accountable for achieving tangible results. An effective ergonomics process will impact key OHS metrics as well as reduce costs that affect the company’s bottom line.
Is your ergonomics team accomplishing its goals? When your facility achieves a significant safety / ergonomics milestone, celebrate it and recognize the appropriate people. These celebrations increase enthusiasm for the process and create a snowball of success that goes a long way to increase the safety and wellness culture of your facility.
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