ergo consulting tips Sep 01, 2022

A good ergonomics program is designed from the start to provide results—workplace improvements that ensure that employees are productive and free from the risk of workplace injuries while reducing costs to the company. If done successfully, you’ll not only have a lot of opportunities to leave a positive impact on that company, but you’ll also be able to have the revenue-generating activities that you need to keep your consulting business going. But how do you achieve it? Where do you get started? Well, having a successful ergonomic program depends on a number of factors.

We all know that success leaves clues, habits, processes, and achievements. Well, the same can be said with successful ergonomic programs. In this post, I'll be sharing with you some insights I've gleaned over the years of consulting, combined with what I’ve learned from one of my favorite books: Kodak’s Ergonomic Design for People at Work. Let’s explore the top 10 characteristics of a mature ergonomic process.

What Makes A Great Ergo Program?

  1. Careful planning and involvement of all stakeholders.

What this means is that all of those who are involved in the organization (the management, supervisors, and frontline employees) should participate and do a kickoff meeting before actually beginning to implement an ergonomics program. In addition, this will help you understand how you're going to be measuring success and other metrics that’ll be key in continuing that process. A strong commitment by everyone involved results in an ergonomic intervention that represents an effective and repeatable ergo process that supports the reduction of ergonomic risks in the workplace.

  1. Involves you as an Ergonomics Expert.

Of course, it’s important that you’re there in the process because you’re the one who will steer the ship forward. It’s your responsibility to persuade both the management and staff of the benefits of introducing such a process within the organization. To have a high-performing ergonomics process that provides value to the organization, you must lead the entire staff both in evaluating MSD risks present in the workplace and in developing and planning effective solutions to manage such risks.

  1. Participatory ergonomics principles are typically practiced.

Participatory ergonomics involves workers in the design and implementation of workplace changes. It’s the most effective means of eliminating or reducing the incidence of work-related MSDs. Basically, what you're going to do is train an in-house team to do it themselves. They need to have those core elements of an ergonomics program. Of course, you’re there to check in and ensure that your recommendations and implementation plans are met.

  1. Ergonomics efforts are integrated with other business initiatives. 

Integrating ergonomic activities with other business initiatives allows the company to utilize existing support mechanisms instead of making new ones. Richard Wells from the University of Waterloo and Institute for Work and Health stressed the importance of integrating ergonomics with engineering and other factors. For instance, if a new piece of equipment is purchased, that piece of equipment can be downloaded before purchasing. Therefore, ergonomics constraints can be assessed before making an investment. I certainly did this when I worked for a larger firm. You can also bring it up when consulting in the office or industry.

  1. Ergonomics problem-solving techniques are more widely accepted and used.

Make sure that everyone in the organization is practicing what they're preaching. It’s important that not only the management is committed to continuing the ergonomics process by providing resources to encourage everyone in the organization to meet their responsibilities, but staff should also embrace ergonomic interventions for them to be effective.

  1. Proactive ergonomics efforts are more common. 

The goal of any ergonomics program is to be proactive. Responding to the risks—not just to complaints and injury—will yield better results. A proactive ergonomics method allows the management to stop speculating and start understanding what risks are present in their workplace. After that, they can concentrate their efforts on enhancing the workplace instead of responding to yet another injury. This way, the organization can be looking at other ways to measure success and other parameters than just simply dealing with the consequences of a reactive strategy.

  1. Leverage software technology.

Using software can help streamline the process, keep the team on the same page, and provide accurate and timely data tracking. It could be that you're measuring leading indicators (proactive) and lagging indicators (reactive), such as data identified through ergonomic assessments, documented employee complaints, or injury data. The same is true for any sort of specialized computerized ergonomics analysis tools out there. Whatever ergonomic software tool you use, it’ll help you prioritize your efforts and focus on identifying and resolving issues. Leveraging software can definitely save you time, get more things done, and make you get the most out of your data. 

  1. The process must be flexible and responsive.

Flexibility and responsiveness must be built into the process structure and analysis process to allow for changing business and organizational cultural needs. The changing production lines and changing seasons will have an impact on employee performance. As a result, the way that things are measured and assessed will also change. So a mature ergonomic process must be flexible and responsive in order to manage the company’s changing ergonomic needs.

  1. The ergonomics program is monitored frequently.

Auditing of the ergonomics program occurs at least annually, but progress should be monitored more frequently. So there’s an opportunity here to follow up with clients that you’ve worked with in the past year and make them an offer again. It could be that you offer them to do yearly refreshers for their ergonomics team or another service that they require. This is great because it allows you to add this service deliverable to your system for those companies that you’ve already worked with and continue to demonstrate the value of your ergo program.

  1. Keeping your finger on the state of the ergonomics world.

Ergonomics should be a permanent part of the company’s comprehensive health and safety program. Programs should be revised and/or retooled every 2-3 years to remove any barriers that you've identified as part of the participatory ergonomics team or whatever system that you've put in place with that organization. Periodic revision is needed to keep the original process as fresh as possible. To achieve optimum results, you need to incorporate new technology and address additional or changed influences. Therefore, it’s vital that you’re familiar with the latest changes or improvements in the field of ergonomics. How do you do that? Well, you need to stay up to date with literature, attend conferences in your area, or join peer-to-peer groups. 

What’s Next?

And that’s it! Now, you should have a pretty good idea of the factors required to have a mature ergonomics process. Having a sound ergonomics program is both a win-win situation for your client and your consulting business. I hope this post brought up some opportunities that maybe you didn't consider before that may be worth pursuing now. 

If you want more practical ergonomics tips and resources, look no further than the Accelerate: The Business of Ergonomics program. In Accelerate, you have access to all the in-depth training, tools, resources, and support from me. I can give you marketing and ergonomics advice, including how to establish an effective ergonomic process. All of that is going to be available at the end of September 2022, when I open the enrollment for my program. Get on the waitlist today, so you’ll be the first one to know when I officially open the enrollment.


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