Without a national standard, or any word from OSHA on what shape ergonomics regulations will take, is ergonomics still on the mind of professionals? According to a survey done by Business News Publishing and reported in the January 2002 edition of Industrial Safety and Hygiene News, ergonomics still ranks high on the list of priorities for 2002 among health and safety professionals.
According to the survey, for small facilities (1-100 employees), ergonomics was third in a list of top priorities for the coming year. This is despite the fact that over 70% of small facilities feel that the economy has hurt safety and health efforts. Among emerging issues that will be of personal interest in the next three years, ergonomics topped the list with 55%. Other issues included behavioral safety, stress effects, and internet technologies.
Among mid-size facilities (101-500 employees), ergonomics came second on a list of top priorities for the upcoming year behind supervisor safety training. In this group, ergonomics also tops the list of emerging issues that will be of personal interest in the next three years at 62%.
Large facilities (more than 1,000 employees) reported ergonomics at the top of the priority list. 52% topped the list of emerging issues that will be of personal interest in the next three years with ergonomics.
Among survey respondents who identified themselves as safety professionals, 58% put ergonomics on the top of the list of emerging issues that will be of personal interest in the next three years. This group did not list ergonomics among three top priorities for the next year. Respondents who identified themselves as industrial hygienists, however, feel that ergonomics should be the top priority, and 54% listed ergonomics as an emerging issue that will be of personal interest in the next three years.
Some respondents were identified as neither industrial hygienists nor safety professionals, but still listed occupational health and safety as their full time job. Among this group ergonomics ranked second on a list of top priorities and 58% felt it was the top emerging issue that will be of personal interest in the next three years. Those who listed occupational health and safety as only a part time job found ergonomics to be third on the list of top priorities and 53% listed ergonomics as an emerging issue that will be of personal interest in the next three years.
The survey also demonstrates that health and safety professionals are broadening their understanding of ergonomics to include more than lifting boxes. 46% of respondents said that an increased workload on employees is a significant concern.
This survey reflects the opinions only of those working mainly as safety professionals and industrial hygienists. Full time ergonomists were not part of the survey population. Other groups concerned with ergonomics but not accounted for in this survey include product designers, engineers, psychologists, and medical professionals.
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