Special Topics in Safety Management

5 Keys to Effective Ergonomics Training

There are legal as well as cost-saving reasons for implementing ergonomic measures. Today we look at 5 core training areas and at a tool for creating or improving your ergonomics policy.

Yesterday’s Advisor looked at possible reasons for the decreased attention paid to ergonomics, including the Bush administration’s decision to forego a federal standard, and what some believe is an actual decline in the incidence of repetitive stress injuries.

But we found that most experts agree that the risk of ergonomic injuries has not diminished, and that musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) account for hundreds of thousands of lost workdays every year. OSHA estimates that preventing just one MSD results in an annual savings of $27,700.

And, if monetary and humanitarian factors were not enough reason for implementing ergonomic improvements, there are legal considerations, as well. BLR’s Essential Safety Policies lists these:

  • OSH Act. The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) requires employers to provide a safe workplace. While ergonomics are not specifically mentioned, the general duty clause covers any injury-causing work situation.
  • States. California has published ergonomic standards for.
  • ADA. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires employers to reasonably accommodate employees with disabilities. Redesigning workstations may be a reasonable accommodation.
  • FMLA. Injured employees may be eligible for time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or similar state law.
  • Workers’ compensation. Employees injured by repetitive motion work may file for workers’ compensation. And employees discharged after filing such claims may be able to sue for discrimination.

Is your ergonomics policy getting results? Do you even have one? If not, we do, and it’s already written and ready to use, along with every other safety policy you’re likely to need, in BLR’s new Essential Safety Policies. Examine it at no cost and with no obligation to purchase. Get details here.

Ergonomic safety starts with an effective policy. And that includes education and training, which, according to Essential Safety Policies, should revolve around clear objectives. Here, in much-abbreviated form, is the book’s suggested breakdown for ergonomics:

1. Objectives for Ergonomics Awareness Training

  • Recognize workplace risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and understand general methods for controlling them.
  • Identify the signs and symptoms of MSDs.
  • Know the process the company is using to address and control risk factors, the employee’s role, and ways employees can participate.
  • Know procedures for reporting risk factors and MSDs.

2. Objectives for Training in Job Analyses and Control Measures

  • Demonstrate the way to do a job analysis for identifying risk factors for MSDs.
  • Select ways to implement and evaluate control measures.

3. Objectives for Training in Problem Solving

  • Identify the departments, areas, and jobs with risk factors through a review of company reports, records, walkthroughs and surveys.
  • Recommend ways to control ergonomic hazards based on job analyses and pooling ideas from employees, management, and other relevant parties.

4. Objectives for Supervisors

  • Respond to employees’ concerns regarding ergonomic problems.
  • Ensure that ergonomic workstation evaluations are conducted, as necessary.
  • Promptly report all injured or ill employees.
  • Ensure that employees who engage in highly repetitive work have frequent, short, alternate work activities.
  • Ensure that the work environment is appropriately evaluated for proper ergonomic practices and conditions.

5. Objectives for the Company

  • Establish department ergonomic safety committees to identify problems.
  • Use periodic medical examinations to screen for problems for specific jobs.
  • Provide this policy to employees upon employment, and post on bulletin boards and website.

Get the safety policies you need without the work. They’re in BLR’s Essential Safety Policies program. Try it at no cost and no risk. Find out how.

The book recommends that you review your ergonomics policy annually and adjust it to comply with any changes in applicable laws or regulations. And, every 3 years, evaluate your ergonomics programs for effectiveness.

So now you’ve seen a sampling of the kind of content Essential Safety Policies provides for your ergonomics policy. What you haven’t seen is the sample policy itself; comprehensive checklists for job analysis, workstations, task analysis, hand tool analysis, and material handling; or the illustrated, 3-page symptoms survey form.

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 the makings of 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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