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Our ergonomists have been introducing a new term when they talk about developing and deploying an ergonomics system – operationalizing ergonomics. Whether an organization is in manufacturing, pharmaceuticals or aerospace, successfully operationalizing ergonomics brings valuable, trackable improvements to employee health and operations as a whole.  

In this blog post, you’ll learn what it means to operationalize ergonomics, why it’s important to apply this systems approach, how to do this successfully, and discover some resources that will help you in operationalizing your own ergonomics process.  

What does it mean to operationalize ergonomics?  

The term “operationalize” means to put something into standardized use and is well-understood in general manufacturing industries. To pair it with “ergonomics” means to set and manage a standardized operation of the ergonomics process, which will be scalable and adaptable as the organization evolves. 

In a large sense, it means the same thing as the term “develop and deploy,” which our resident ergonomics experts use often when discussing the ergonomics process. It all comes back to the Plan, Do, Check, Act model of managing a process—a strategic, planned approach to managing musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) risk that’s aimed at continuous improvement.  

Why is it important? 

Operationalizing ergonomics can bring numerous tangible benefits to an organization, such as a reduction in employee musculoskeletal disorder risk and an increase in employee retention, as well as improved product quality and productivity – among other benefits.  

Another valuable effect that operationalizing ergonomics has on an organization as a whole is that it helps maintain the program as it grows and evolves. As new facilities open, will they understand the standards of the ergonomics program, and be able to meet them? People will eventually leave the company or shift roles—who will oversee the ergonomics process after they’re gone?  

These questions need to be answered and addressed for an ergonomics program to continue and be impactful.  

How can an organization operationalize ergonomics? 

Ultimately, by following the well-established Plan, Do, Check, Act model of managing an ergonomics process—determining the purpose of the program, assessing MSD risk, determining root causes and solutions, and committing to the process that is put in place. But, where does an organization start?  

The purpose of the ergonomics program needs to be determined first, along with a strategy to fulfill that purpose. A plan needs to be put into place to administer ergonomics training, complete ergonomics assessments, prioritize them, identify accurate root causes and appropriate solutions, implement those solutions, and then measure the impact of the changes implemented. 

Training is an invaluable aspect to operationalizing ergonomics. Employees need to be properly trained from the standard set in the ergonomics program. Without it, there’s no standardization in the employees’ level of knowledge, which means that everyone will be working from different standards and that the process isn’t consistent across teams, or well operationalized. 

How can software help operationalize ergonomics? 

Operationalizing ergonomics is a lot to take on, and implementing a comprehensive ergonomics software system can be a huge help for organizations beginning their ergonomics process. Software programs help ensure trackability and consistency, but implementing a system like VelocityEHS Industrial Ergonomics will ensure accountability – that something is done with assessment results, to make improvements. 

Even if an organization is using the latest tech to complete ergonomics assessments, such as sensorless motion capture, MSD risk level won’t be reduced by the risk assessment results alone. VelocityEHS Industrial Ergonomics helps to quantify MSD risk and identify root causes, and then helps to determine the right solutions to reduce the risk within a task.  

The system also provides the training needed to truly operationalize an ergonomics program, ensuring the longevity of an ergonomics process within an organization. No matter where the employee is or what language they speak, the software has the capabilities to provide the same level of training to every employee 24/7.  

With a comprehensive ergonomics software system like VelocityEHS Industrial Ergonomics, operationalizing your ergonomics process is simply and quickly achievable.