From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

What Do Employees Really Need to Know About Ergonomics?

A salesperson is given a new software product to sell but she has never tested its features. A cashier is handed the additional duty of checking tickets but no one informed him of what to check for. A physical education teacher is trying to tell her students how to bowl but can’t remember the rules for scoring. How effective will any of these workers be?

The concept of training and educating is nothing new in business. If an employer wants the workers to tackle a task in a certain manner, then it makes sense to instruct those workers on how to do so. A receptionist is shown how to transfer calls. A customer service representative is told how to access a customer account. Teaching employees how to do their jobs just makes sense.

But how far should that teaching go? Do employees need to know information that may not be directly related to their jobs? And when ergonomics is the subject, how much education is enough? Or too much?

The answers depend on who you ask.

“Education alone doesn’t work because knowledge without motivation doesn’t translate to behavior change,” says Miriam Wedemeyer, Ergonomics Program Director for Long Beach Memorial Medical Center (see the “Case Study” article on page 9). “Case in point, who doesn’t know that too much food and too little exercise makes one fat? And

This article originally appeared in The Ergonomics Report™ on 2003-08-01.