Developing an ergonomic program

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Courtesy of Compliance Management International

Ergonomic issues are found in every aspect of industry. It is one of the more misunderstood topics and often the word alone can cause dollar signs to flash in the eyes of business owners. In reality, a strong Ergonomics program can improve business conditions by increasing efficiency, increasing employee morale and decreasing workplace injuries/illnesses. The key is to look at Ergonomics as less of a safety function and more of an engineering discipline that is incorporated into each step of your process.

Ergonomic Risk Factors:

Six of the most commonly recognized Ergonomic Risk Factors include:

1. Frequency
2. Awkward Postures
3. Force
4. Contact Stresses
5. Vibration
6. Cold Temperatures

The more risk factors that are present in your process, the greater the likelihood your employees will develop Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD’s). It is important to note that Ergonomic Risk Factors are thought to work synergistically when combined. This means that two or more risk factors may multiply the risk when found together instead of just increasing it slightly.

Developing Your Program:

It is very common for companies to kick off a new program with a group training class. When implementing your Ergonomics Program this should probably be one of the last steps. It is true that claim frequency can increase once employees are aware of Ergonomic Illnesses and this can become a nightmare if you have not properly prepared. The long term goal is to develop a culture where employees report minor discomfort so changes can be made before it becomes a larger issue that can progress to lost time or surgery.

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