Ergonomics Work Management Model
Duke, Larry (SabFab Solutions, LLC)
ith the onset of increased reporting of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) by U.S. Industry in the late 1980s much attention was turned to the subject of ergonomics. Ergonomics in the 1990s spawned what is arguably the single most significant workplace safety issue in recent history, one likely to continue well into the new millennium.
The subject has fueled a multitude of academic studies, linking MSDs to poor ergonomic workplace conditions. It has been a hotbed within OSHA's regulatory process and may ultimately result in a federal ergonomics standard.
OSHA reports that MSDs account for $15-20 billion annually in worker's compensation costs to employers. For years companies have been implementing ergonomics programs to combat worker's compensation costs and to protect workers, with overall positive results.
Figures for the semiconductor industry indicate that the proportion of cases associated with ergonomic conditions is approaching 60 percent of the total cases. A statistic that has not gone unnoticed by progressive semiconductor companies that address ergonomics as part of their overall environmental, health and safety (EHS) strategy.
However, even with all the attention ergonomics is getting and the evidence that ergonomics improvements can prevent employee injuries, the person within a semiconductor company responsible for implementing ergonomic improvements may still find it a "hard sell" to management. Especially beyond the basic program elements and quick-fix solutions when ergonomic retrofits must compete for resources with other higher profile EHS issues.
A systematic, focused approach that allows for and prioritization of ergonomic issues within a company can build a strong case for going beyond the traditional limitations of an ergonomics program. Analysis and planning is a must for insuring that adequate resources are identified and directed toward the highest priority opportunities for ergonomic improvements.
This paper explores a model for systematic planning and prioritization that includes three primary steps: 1) Assessing needs through data collection and analysis; 2) Characterizing resource requirements for priority needs; 3) Targeting the best solution to meet the need.
[abstract as .pdf]