By now most companies have ergonomics on their radar and have at least added the topic to the WPSH committee meeting agendas. Others have been nudged into paying more attention to ergonomics by government WPSH orders or penalty fees, following injuries and subsequent WCB claims.
I have assisted companies who pride themselves in having sound ergonomic programs, having Safe Work procedures in place and policies that elicit quick responses to reports of pain, injury, and identified risk factors, as well as investing in administrative and engineering changes to solve the issues. Although off to a great start, they are reactionary in their methods and their injury statistics do not reflect a decreasing trend in injuries, most likely due to a lack of prevention in their focus.
Safe Work policies alone do not prevent musculoskeletal injuries, as they are job specific and not employee specific. Many ergonomic risk factors are individual in nature and warrant an individual ergonomic assessment to best match the environment to the worker. Providing ergonomic assessments for newly hired employees can prevent future injuries and therefore save the employer costs they incur responding to injuries.
Leaders in Health and Safety have taken their ergonomic prevention procedures a step further by including an ergonomic education session in the orientation of new hires along with the WHIMS and Safe Work Procedure training, to create a sound prevention program.
We know the risk of MSI is high in the first six months of being on the job, so spending loads of time and energy finding the right person for the job, might prove less than fruitful without ergonomic prevention measures in place. OK, so I'm sure you see the value in this type of prevention method, but how do you get your HR and Health and Safety Reps to get on board and put the plan in action?
Marnie Courage, O.T.Reg(MB)