Five Critical Elements for Managing Your Ergonomics Program
Posted on July 12, 2022 | in Ergonomics
VelocityEHS’ Director of Consulting, Winnie Ip, shares a quick summary of her presentation at the 2014 ASSE Conference.
Hi, I’m Winnie IP, Director of Consulting at HumanTech (now VelocityEHS Ergonomics). My colleague, Walt Rosticus, and I spoke last week at ASSC’s conference in Orlando, Florida. Our session was titled “Five Critical Elements for Managing an Ergonomics Program,” and our findings were based on benchmarking reports that we’ve done over the past several years here at HumanTech.
I thought I’d share with you a summary recap of what we talked about. The very first point we talked was targeting the cause. In targeting the cause, what we want to make sure companies do is not focus only on injuries and the consequences but really focus on risk factors. We know that within ergonomics, you want to focus on musculoskeletal disorder risk factors. When you do such things, you’re really able to look more into the future and prevent injuries, versus waiting for injuries to happen before you do anything about it.
The second point was establishing a common goal. We know that leading companies use one common goal, such as reducing your musculoskeletal risk factors to a low or no level of risk. Again, the goal here is you focus on the risk factors and not the consequences. One goal also allows multiple people within the organization to work towards the same goal. Now, keep in mind that within ergonomics, there are other benefits. So, if you have, for example, goals related to quality, productivity, or safety, you can set additional goals that will help you achieve that common goal.
The third point is making sure you have top-down commitment. That is crucial. As much as it’s important as establishing employee involvement and employee commitment, top-down commitment means that your senior managers are the ones really leading and driving the cause. Without their commitment, you will not be able to achieve long-term sustainable success.
The fourth goal is establishing a familiar system. It’s always easier to leverage existing initiatives that you have in place. And again, leading companies really look for opportunities to leverage ergonomics with other programs they have in place. It could be leveraging your lean and Six Sigma programs. If you have a lean continuous improvement process, ergonomics fits really well with the plan-do-check-act approach. If you have Six Sigma, you can build ergonomics into the DMAIC process (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control). The nice thing about using a continuous improvement process is that you can use it in a variety of industries. It doesn’t matter if you’re in an office environment, manufacturing environment, or a laboratory environment. A continuous improvement process makes sure that everyone follows the exact same process, and that’s really key.
The last one that we talked about was making sure you have regular checkpoints. So, again making sure that you are looking at your goals and metrics and measuring them on a regular basis. Whether they’re monthly reviews with your ergonomics team or quarterly reviews with your management group. Again targeting and making sure you’re following those measures will make sure you have long-term sustainable success.
So, again, the five were: target the cause, establish a common goal, have a top-down approach, have a familiar system, and last but not least, have regular checks. Now as a bonus, we did also throw in return on investment, and both Walt and I are working towards establishing benchmarking with companies to really identify what the benefits and costs are of programs. We encourage all of you to really step up and start looking at what kind of metrics are needed to really capture return on investment.