how-to Feb 05, 2021
 

Implementing ergonomics in the workplace is essential. Having a safe working environment has a crucial impact on company culture, productivity, and the overall well-being and health of the employees. But ergonomics can be tricky because it’s unique to each organization, company, workspace, and employee. To illustrate, an ergonomic assessment of an office is distinct from that of a warehouse. And this is where our value lies as Ergonomic Consultants. We can help our clients implement effective ergonomic programs that would be best fit for their situation and ergonomic challenges.

Ergonomic Solutions: Searching it Yourself vs. Asking the Experts

That’s why it’s also important to clear this common misconception that you shouldn’t bother getting into office ergonomics when your clients can just search the Internet and come up with solutions themselves. The fact of the matter is that many employers that are sold on the idea of simply searching for solutions online don't even realize that they’re not looking at the right information. As ergonomic professionals, you play a role in making your clients understand that if they plan on investing in an ergonomic assessment, having a qualified person with experience conducting the assessment is important. So in this blog, I will talk you through the blind spots that you should be considering if you've ever thought that your clients can just sort out their ergonomics themselves. 

The Blind Spots: Incorrect and Conflicting Information

A very huge yet common misconception that my students from my Ergonomic Blueprint and Accelerate programs often raise is that, “Why would my potential clients need help if they can just search the information themselves online?“ It’s true that there are a lot of resources regarding ergonomics available on the Internet that our clients can utilize at their disposal, but we have the expertise and experience. What we provide doesn't necessarily align with what our clients think that they can do themselves. The point is that you simply can't find everything you need on the Internet, you can only find what you're looking for. And this creates a blind spot. Without the ergonomist’s guidance, employers won’t be able to effectively identify and remove ergonomic risk factors in their workplace. 

The principles of how to do an office ergonomic assessment are fairly simple. But just because something is simple doesn't mean that it's easy to do. And this is the reason why there’s a lot of incorrect and inconsistent information on the Internet. You can easily find a piece of content or website showing how to sit correctly, or perhaps the stretches that we should be doing as a solution to solve high-task repetition issues. Or perhaps you see content urging people to implement engineering controls to limit Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorder (WMSD) hazards. On a side, that is also something that I teach in my Ergonomic Blueprint and Accelerate programs. I believe in the hierarchical approach to ergonomic solutions, and that the most valuable high-impact, low-cost solutions will always be engineering. So it's not a matter of how much you stretch, it really is a matter of how you set up your workplace. 

The main point is that all this conflicting information on the Internet will create a blind spot. 

And if your potential clients just rely on the information on the Internet, are they even looking at the right information to get the changes that they anticipate this information will bring? There are things that an employer needs to consider when undertaking an ergonomic assessment, and only an Ergonomic Consultant can help them identify their ergonomic issues and devise the best solution to correct them. 

In order to better understand this idea of blind spot, I want to bring up the Gorilla Basketball Experiment. This particular experiment had volunteers watch a video of 2 teams passing basketballs. One team was wearing black shirts, the other white. The task was to count the correct number of passes that the white-shirted team made. During the game, a person dressed in a gorilla costume walked through the scene, thumped his chest, and spent a considerable amount of time in the middle of the screen. Despite the gorilla walking through the scene in plain view, the researchers found that half of the volunteers failed to notice it. The experiment revealed two things. First is that if we are paying close attention to one thing, we usually fail to notice other things in our field of vision— those are the blind spots. And second, we have no idea that we're missing so much. The same thing applies to your potential clients if they depend on the conflicting content on the Internet, they won’t even know if they’re looking at the right information. It takes a professional with the training to set up a really holistic and systematic perspective of how everything works together.

What We Can Do As Professionals

Typically, Ergonomic Consultants are in short supply in most cities, and I want you to compare that to other healthcare professionals. In my opinion, the one thing that stands between you and your clients is marketing your services. If your potential clients don't know that you exist, then it’s likely that they don't know what they have is a problem either, because it's a blind spot. Once we have clarity that they’re missing the right information, we can start to design our content to be reflective of the point of where they are right now. And I'm going to encourage you to start taking action and build those relationships in your community, because there are people out there that need our services. There might be an employee right now who’s been trying to get their workplace to deal with their carpal tunnel syndrome discomfort, and they've tried everything that they can but they haven't figured it out. And of course, it's in their blind spot, they're not aware that they’re missing the correct information to solve the discomfort. The utmost human performance is achieved if you have a good workplace design and healthy, productive employees. And that's what we can provide as Ergonomic Professionals to help them. Our potential clients will need our expertise in two areas: the science of ergonomics and the ability to create a culture of safety and wellness.

And that’s it. I hope this blog encourages you to take action to let your clients be aware that we have this service and that we can help them. If you’re interested to learn more how other healthcare professionals are already adding ergonomic expertise to their services, you might want to check out the training that I offer. To learn more information about it, just head on this link.

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