Human Engineering: Developing ergonomics programs for enhance d productivity and safety

Human Engineering Developing ergonomics programs for enhanced productivity and safety By Michelle Garetson May 2000 Ergonomics and its application in the workplace has become an increasingly important issue for management and workers...

• How to set up and manage an ergonomics program;
• How to identify and analyze MSD hazards and measures to eliminate or materially reduce the hazards
• How to evaluate the effectiveness of ergonomics programs and controls.

With any program or new practice, there are costs involved. One of the more sticky points brought out by opponents to the OSHA proposal is the item regarding personal protective equipment. The proposal states, "Personal protective equipment (PPE) may be used to supplement engineering, work practice and administrative controls, but may only be used alone where other controls are not feasible. Where PPE is used, you must provide it at 'no cost to employees.' NOTE: Back belts/braces and wrist braces/splints are not considered PPE for the purposes of this standard."

The fear here lies within the phrase "Where PPE is used, you must provide it at no cost to employees." However, OSHA defers the determination for the necessity for PPE to the employer. And, as previously mentioned, the proposal calls for job-based, rather than facility-wide, ergonomics programs.

Employers must weigh for themselves whether the investment in a program will offset the costs associated with workers' compensation claims and lost revenue due to injured employees.

In the practice, ergonomics is fitting the job to the worker. Management and employees must work together to bring about the right environment in an effort to reduce workplace injuries and increase efficiency and productivity.

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