SAFER HANDLING: Is Your Ergonomics Program Good Enough?
“Manual material handling (MMH) continues to be the number one reason for workers compensation claims and lost time injuries,” noted Jim Galante, chairman of MHI’s Ergonomic Assist Systems and Equipment (EASE) Industry Group and director of business development for MHI member Southworth Products Corp. “The majority of these claims are lower and upper back related, which are the most expensive types of claims. Good ergonomics programs can significantly reduce those incidents, but, like safety and quality programs, they are journeys, not destinations, and must be regularly reviewed and routinely strengthened.”
How can you tell whether your current ergonomics program is adequately protecting your workers? Begin by determining when you last reevaluated it. If it’s been more than a year, chances are good it could use improvement. Are your program metrics or key performances indicators moving in the right direction? Here are some things to consider.
Has your facility introduced any new equipment since the last ergonomics program update? Were employees trained to use the equipment in an ergonomically correct way? Have your supervisors or safety team members observed these workers to see whether they use it properly? Even if the new equipment is designed to make lifting easier, if employees avoid or misuse it, they could experience stress leading to injuries. Regular observation of how employees do their jobs is necessary to ensure they are working safely and optimizing their performance.