From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Essentials of an Occupational Ergonomics Program

The following is excerpted from Ergoweb’s Applied Workplace Ergonomics Training Manual.

Musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) prevention programs in the workplace, often called ergonomics programs, have been shown to lower business costs due to decreased lost time, decreased incidence/severity of injury/illness, and decreased workers’ compensation costs. Although program specifics should reflect the uniqueness of the workplace, all successful programs share certain principles.

Step 1: Looking for signs of MSDs

MSDs may be a significant cost and issue in the workplace. Some indices of their prevalence are:

  • OSHA 200 and 300 Logs
  • Workers Compensation Claim Records
  • Insurance records
  • Worker satisfaction indices
  • Checklists and analysis of work areas

Step 2: Setting the stage for action

Management commitment is essential to a successful program. Commitment by management provides the organizational resources and motivating force necessary to deal effectively with MSDs. Employee participation may take the form of direct or indirect input. A common form of participation is through a joint labor-management safety and health committee.

Step 3: Training

Employees should be provided ergonomics training on:

  • Common MDS hazards
  • Signs and symptoms of MSDs
  • Proper reporting

Management and employee groups should be trained in job analysis and control measures.

Step 4: Gathering and examining evidence

This step is the bulk of a program, and consists of detailed job analysis.

Step 5: Developing controls

Engineering or administrative controls are identified and implemented.

Step 6: Health care management

Health care management focuses on the prevention of impairment and disability through early detection, prompt treatment, and rational return to work policies.

Step 7: Program Evaluation

Procedures and mechanisms should be developed to evaluate the MSD program and monitor progress. Proactive approaches emphasize efforts at the design stage of work processes to recognize needs for avoiding risk factors that can lead to MSDs.

For more information see Ergoweb’s Applied Workplace Ergonomics Training Manual.