Use Downtime to Boost Your Ergonomics Process

Five Myths Office Ergonomics

The unpredictable events of 2020 have significantly altered the operations and programs of companies around the world, and ergonomics programs are no exception. Many leaders are at a loss as to what they can do to contribute to ergonomics when there is no one physically working, or if regular production has been interrupted. The good news is that there is plenty to do to improve the quality of a program, whether operations are continuing normally or not.

Review your data quality

It’s no secret that data-driven decisions are the most successful, but consistency in producing good data is often lacking. We recommend that at least once annually, a subject matter expert reviews a good sample size (for example, 25 jobs, or 10% of all assessments) of submitted job assessment data to identify input trends and areas of opportunity to ensure all the data that influences decisions are reliable. Here are some examples of items to review for an ergonomics assessment:

  • Are the descriptions complete and detailed enough to describe all tasks assessed?
  • Is there obsolete data to clean up?
  • Are the scores accurate according to photo/video evidence?
  • Is there consistent under- or over-scoring?
  • Have critical dimensions been documented to benchmark changes?
  • Do the direct causes capture all the risk factors in the task?
  • Do the direct causes identify the issue rather than the symptom?
  • Is there evidence that improvements are brainstormed and researched?
  • Are follow-up assessments being completed?

A negative answer to any of the above questions could mean that there’s a lapse in training, process, or equipment. Ensuring that all participants have received the adequate training to complete tasks and assessments is paramount, and this could be a great opportunity for team members to refresh their courses. Ensuring that a standardized process for training and data collection is created and adhered to will also ensure excellent and consistent data, and it may need to be reinforced or altered if the existing standardized processes haven't shown good results.  Lastly, having the correct equipment available for a team, such as cameras, force gauges, or tape measures, could make a big impact on how well assessments are completed.

Review your statistics

Good quality data will lead to useful statistics that not only reveal the status and progress of a program but can also help identify areas of deficiency and roadblocks. A period with slower data input provides a perfect opportunity to analyze and reflect on the statistics of a program.

For example, irregular meetings and poor meeting attendance can reflect lack of commitment from leadership, or it may mean that some team members are overburdened. Without regular meetings a cohesive team can hardly be formed to carry out assessments and improvement tasks. A lack of completed improvements could mean that the team doesn’t have enough authority to take charge in making a change, or it could be due to a command chain issue or insufficient resource allocation. A large portion of direct causes in the “workstation layout” category can indicate that process engineers are not considering and testing ergonomics enough; this is an opportunity for improvement.

Regardless of the category they fall under, there is always something that the statistics are trying to say. Focusing on the cause of what led to a certain statistic can often help you find the biggest roadblocks to accomplishing your ergonomics goals.