5 Common Ergonomics Mistakes

Injuries and Illness
by ckilbourne

Studies attribute 40 to 75 percent of reportable workplace injuries to poor ergonomic conditions. Unfortunately, in an effort to cut these injury rates, some companies are making some major mistakes. Don’t be one of them.

Walt Rostykus, vice president at Humantech, advises clients to integrate ergonomics into their safety management systems and to make ergonomics a component in the process they use to manage quality or continuous improvement.

Rostykus is author of the eBook Five Mistakes Companies Make with Ergonomics. The 16-page publication can be downloaded at no cost from the Humantech website at www.Humantech.com. Here’s a preview.

  • Mistake #1: The wrong goal. Despite the preponderance of articles and blogs on the need to look at leading, not lagging, indicators, CEOs are still most interested in injury and illness rates. However, says Rostykus, that is like “predicting the outcome of a baseball game after it’s been played, which is too late!”
  • Mistake #2: An unsustainable approach. Good ergonomics is not about a laundry list of technical requirements. That’s an antiquated approach that is not sustainable long term. Rostykus recommends managing ergonomics using familiar systems such as continuous improvement, which have been used to achieve other improvements.

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  • Mistake #3: A narrow view. Viewing ergonomics strictly as a safety discipline stops companies from achieving the full benefit of incorporating workplace improvements. For a long time ergonomics has been associated strictly with safety. It can, however, lead to valuable changes like eliminating unnecessary motion that slows down cycle time, improving the quality of products, and reducing quality defects, which leads to fewer shipping delays.
  • Mistake #4: Ineffective and inconsistent tools. “It’s amazing how organizations focus on comparing their exposure to a known threshold like TLVs for chemicals,” says Rostykus. “But when it comes to ergonomics, they are subjective.” He recommends using tools based on valid data.
  • Mistake #5: Failure to check. Humantech research found that many companies make ergonomic improvements and check them off a list without any effort to assess their impact. Comparing conditions before and after the change is essential, whether it’s tactical or system-based improvement.

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Policies for Every Need

It’s essential to have a policy to deal with all they key workplace issues, including ergonomics. The BLR publication Essential Safety Policies provides you with sample strict, standard, and progressive versions of each policy, so that you can determine which approach is best for your workplace and your employees.

You can use these policies “as is” or adapt them to your organization’s particular needs and style. Each section in the manual provides you with comprehensive lists of points to cover if you want to adapt one of the policies or draft your own.

You can incorporate these policies into your employee handbook, too, to make sure all employees are made aware of your workplace rules and requirements.

And Essential Safety Policies doesn’t stop there—it gives you a detailed list of other important things to consider when you implement these policies, such as interrelation with other policies, employee education, legal considerations, and more.

Take these kinds of materials and multiply them by more than two dozen key safety topics, and you’ll know why Essential Safety Policies is such a valuable tool for busy safety professionals. These policies provide a ready-to-modify or use-as-is safety handbook for all your workers, with minimal effort on your part.

The policies are backed by a tutorial on policy writing and essential materials such as handbook receipts. A CD version is also available.

If your organization could benefit from supplementing (or perhaps having for the first time) a complete set of ready to use safety policies, we highly recommend a 30-day, no-cost, no-obligation, look at this program. Go here and we’ll be pleased to send it to you.


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