Wouldn’t it be nice to have a new car every time a tire went flat or the gas tank hit empty? But how realistic would that be? Probably about as realistic as embarking on a full-blown ergonomics program when the heart of the problem is that Jim’s wrist is flaring up from using a tool that doesn’t fit his process. Sure it would be nice to redesign the workplace, but reality might mean that for now, it’s just time to find Jim a new wrench.
A corporate-wide ergonomics commitment achieves far more benefits than just injury prevention but sometimes the thought of taking on more than a company is ready to tackle means the company doesn’t act at all. And with ergonomics, even a small, but well-chosen and qualified effort is better than total inaction.
Ergonomics is, in part, the science of work, acting to remove barriers to quality, productivity, and safe human performance by fitting products, tasks and environments to people. Like any science, it’s often best performed by well-trained professionals who know how to find the problem and determine the most effective means of generating a solution. But ergonomics solutions, which are by definition human-centered, can involve the contribution of a number of different parties, some ergonomists, some not, to develop workplace solutions that fit everyone.
Making a smart, qualified decision regarding an ergonomics initiative is the first step to success. Recruiting the right resources, finding the proper tools, and taking a focused approach to problem solving can lead to results with an impact rivaling an all-encompassing ergonomics program but with less cost, risk or commitment from potential skeptics. Ergonomics can be readily implemented into any pre-existing program focusing on quality or process improvement (Six Sigma or Lean Manufacturing, for example). In fact, without ergonomics components, whatever continuous improvement goal an organization is trying to achieve will still come up short.
Regardless of what it’s called
This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2004-02-01.