Understanding and applying the Ergonomic Process can lead to improved productivity and increased profit for your company.
To ensure that your business has done the right job in fitting the task to the worker, you need the Ergonomic Process.
Ergonomic consultants can help your business produce results on a number of worksite fronts:
- Decrease injury & reinjury claims
- Reduce lost work time by decreasing absenteeism
- Reduce retraining costs
- Reduce WSIB costs and short and long term disability claims
- Foster employee partnership
- Improve worker comfort and job satisfaction
- Increase company productivity and profit
- Raise staff morale
- Promote the reputation of the company
What injuries may occur without Ergonomic analysis and follow up?
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Rotator cuff strain
- Chronic neck and shoulder strain
- Chronic lower back pain
- Eye strain
Ergonomic evaluation and application has become increasingly more significant as businesses recognize the negative effects of repetitive strain injuries. A worker who is performing the same task over and over, or who remains in a static posture with muscles in the same position for a prolonged period of time, is at risk.
Ergonomic application can reduce sick time, WSIB costs, short term and long term disability claims.
Ergonomic application works with unlimited long-term benefits to both company and worker.
Ergonomics promotes the fit between the worker and the workplace
Ergonomic consultants study the abilities and limitations of workers as they relate to how the job is actually performed. The equipment and tools used for the job are evaluated to ensure that the employees are productive, safe and healthy.
People are the focus as ergonomics looks at the way we design and organize things. It is not just a one-time process, it is an ongoing process.
Ergonomics looks at traditional tangible items, such as:
- Body types of workers
- The job process required
- Work habits
- The systems and equipment designed for the job
It also looks at intangible factors such as:
- How the tangible factors fit with the individual worker
- What the worker does
- How the worker does it
- What the job demands are
Cumulative injuries can be detected early through the ergonomics process which can lead to modifications within the work environment.
Step 1: Ergonomic analysis
- Includes detailed analysis of tasks and related job demands through the use of the following: video camera, Polaroid stills, measurement assessment tools.
- Interview of worker and employer
- The detailed analysis will identify all risk factors, including inefficient work methods, which could impact worker health and productivity.
Step 2: Recommended solution(s)
- The recommended changes will be specifically tailored to the job task with the goal of reducing injury potential, lost time and maximizing worker productivity.
- Solutions will be designed for the employer with attention given to cost-benefit ratio.
Step 3: Implementation of the solution(s)
- Recommendations for changes to job routines, work tasks and equipment will be made in consultation with the employer and tailored to budget limitations and business needs.
- Changes to the work environment can be implemented in stages according to the business plan.
Step 4: Employee ergonomic team
- In-house employee ergonomic teams foster employee partnership with the company and allow employees to take responsibility for their own workplace health.
- In-house employee ergonomic teams can monitor ongoing ergonomic status and efficiently identify need for further ergonomic analysis.
- The term "ergonomics" was officially coined in the 1950s. Ergon means work and effort, and Nomos means laws or surroundings.
- However, the birth of ergonomics dates back to the start of the industrial revolution with the introduction of the Cotton Gin in the mid 1750s.
- This was followed by a number of forerunners in 1798 which led to an early version of the assembly line with the manufacturer of the Colt 44 in 1847.
- The formal recognition of the first actual assembly line came with Henry Ford's introduction of mass production of cars.
- Eventually, production processes in businesses began to be studied which resulted in a better understanding of how to achieve operating efficiencies.
- By the 1980s, mass production with narrow task specialization and the top-down management style had become the norm for most businesses.
- As we move forward in the 1990s and toward the 21st century with stiff competition increasing and a new global economy unfolding, a new industrial system is emerging. Businesses are now recognizing the need for employees to participate in solving work issues, and cross training and job standardization are becoming the norm.
In 1993, there were 3,216 tendinitis or carpal tunnel syndrome injuries reported to the Ontario Workers' Compensation Board, which represented a 20% increase from the number of these injuries reported in 1990 (Source: Toronto Star, June 1996).
In 1990, the number of compensated lost-time injuries caused by repetitive body motion was 5,027. In 1993, this increased by 255 to 6,307 cases (Source: Toronto Star, June 1996).
The ergonomist or ergonomic consultant's role is to promote the fit between the worker and the workplace. The Ontario Ministry of Labour hires ergonomists to help manage ergonomic related issues.