Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Ergonomics; Job Analyses: "Great Milk Comes from Happy Cows. Happy Cows Come from California."

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Ergonomics; Job Analyses: "Great Milk Comes from Happy Cows. Happy Cows Come from California."

Article excerpt

I am not an expert on the quality of milk--or the happiness of cows--but I do understand the point being made by the California Milk Advisory Board in their "happy cows" advertising campaign. Great products are created by happy "producers" working in comfortable environments.

When it comes to workplace comfort, employees often are the engineers of their own happiness.

While participating in formal ergonomic reviews, I worked with engineers who had "ergonomist" on their business cards and regulators with a penchant for detailed anthropometric data and complex formulas. But these formal ergonomic analyses typically ignore the red flags waving throughout the workplace: employees' self-crafted solutions to deal with fatigue and discomfort. For example, many employes turn to the mystical properties of duct tape, and a company's recycling bin, to improve their personal working environments. Duct tape and cardboard become the "low-hanging fruit" of many ergonomic programs.

Compounding these oversights is the fact that these self-crafted solutions never seem to appear on a hazard list, even though they spawn directly from someone's pain or discomfort. Perhaps these feats of ingenuity are considered "problems solved," but I have never found them on a hazard control list either. Don't get me wrong, the employee inventors enjoy pride of accomplishment, but I have yet to speak with one that considered the issue to be satisfactorily abated. I am not sure how ANSI would classify these control methods.

Active Agenda doesn't have an "Ergonomics" module, because a comfortable workplace is the product of many elements, the most important of which is communication. Instead, Active Agenda utilizes a variety of modules to assist companies with the implementation of an effective ergonomics program.

Active Agenda tracks and trends injuries and illnesses at all levels of severity and it automates the OSHA Recordkeeping forms. It tracks suggestions made to improve working conditions, and trust accounts created to support employee solutions. It captures hazard reports, and it records control methods. The system also is capable of generating employee questionnaires and symptom surveys. The closest thing Active Agenda has to an "Ergonomics" module is the Job Analysis module, but it's the combined power of recording, empowering, asking and listening (with your eyes too), that generates the best results.

The Job Analysis module is used to record observations of job hazards and controls at the task level. …

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