Magazine article Personnel Journal

Benefit from Ergonomics Assessment

Magazine article Personnel Journal

Benefit from Ergonomics Assessment

Article excerpt

Today's HR professionals are required to have a vast amount of knowledge on a wide array of topics. Let PERSONNEL JOURNAL find the experts to answer questions on the personnel issues important to you. Your colleagues asked: What steps should HR take to improve the ergonomic environment? Steve Hollingsworth, corporate manager of environmental health and safety at Mattel Inc., says:

The first step in improving the company's ergonomic environment is to launch a proactive effort that specifically addresses ergonomics. Inherent in this step is accepting that ergonomic problems may already exist. Jobs that require tasks such as typing, lifting, bending, stretching and standing, performed for long periods of time, are ones for which ergonomic problems may exist.

Improving the company's ergonomic environment should be a cooperative effort between several key departments. Establish an in-house ergonomic committee to discuss issues such as objectives, the company's loss experience, budget needs, training needs and potential hardware needs. The committee should include: HR, safety and health, risk management, facilities, a losscontrol expert familiar with ergonomic programs and perhaps an ergonomic expert.

The next step is assessing the state of the ergonomic environment. The use of questionnaires can be somewhat helpful; however, one-on-one interviewing and observation of worker interaction with equipment and environment by an experienced ergonomic expert is the most efficient means of acquiring the data needed.

Following data collection, the ergonomics committee should develop and publish a needs assessment or formal recommendation. This recommendation should include several alternative plans and be cost-sensitive. It's important to deemphasize ergonomic hardware and emphasize human behavior modification. So, recommendations should lean toward training-the most costeffective means of controlling potential losses.

Improving the company's ergonomic environment requires a tremendous amount of planning and responsibility. Employees are becoming increasingly more sophisticated in their understanding of ergonomic issues and are taking steps of their own to find information on the subject. …

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