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On-Site Ergonomics Evaluations

On-Site Ergonomics Evaluations

Updated June 9, 2021 Originally published January 21, 2016
Danny Sanchez, PT, CEAS

On-Site Ergonomics Evaluations http://www.onsite-physio.com/workplace-wellness-programs/on-site-ergonomics-evaluations @onsitephysio

Every job requires some amount of movement. But certain jobs are much more challenging than others. Ergonomic evaluation defines the physical movements needed to perform any given job. More importantly, these evaluations can be used to determine if any of these movements are unsafe or can potentially lead to a work-related injury.

Lifting, reaching and carrying are common movements most of us engage in every day. Yet few of us were ever taught how to do these things properly. Or how injuries such as lower back strains can occur. No wonder there are so many on-the-job injuries that result in workers’ comp claims.

Ergonomic Evaluations Reduce Risk

Traditional job demands analysis (JDA) identifies a variety of physical and positional demands that are associated with a particular job. That might include body mechanics, static postures, repetitive movements, push/pull forces, work/rest cycles, etc. JDAs are used to develop better, more accurate job descriptions. The data can also be used to construct job-specific post-offer employment tests.

Ergonomic evaluations are different. These assessments are performed for current workers. A trained observer watches how the employee performs their job. They then can recommend ways to perform the tasks in a safer, more efficient manner. That benefits future hires as well as existing employees.

The data you gather allows you to:

  • Mitigate risk and lower the likelihood of work-related injuries or cumulative trauma disorders
  • Identify opportunities for making job tasks more efficient
  • Develop more accurate job descriptions, so everyone understands what is expected
  • Improve overall workplace safety

Ergonomic Evaluations Make Sense

Consider this example. 2010 Bureau of Labor Statistics data reveals that 25% of hotel and hospitality workers are housekeepers. The physical demands of their job put them at a very high risk for injury. A housekeeper might assume more than 800 body positions within a single shift. Not surprisingly, injury-related costs are staggering. You don’t have to be a hospitality industry employer to understand this problem first-hand.

It’s common sense, really. Ergonomic evaluations are your reality-check. Instead of assessing your workplace based on what a “typical” housekeeper might do, you evaluate precisely what your housekeepers actually do to perform their job.

If an employee is injured, the goal isn’t for them to get “better.” The goal is for them to get back to work-ready status as quickly as possible. Data from their ergonomic evaluation shows exactly what is needed to reach pre-injury status. Doctors and physical therapists can create a plan of care individually-tailored to the person and to their job. That’s more effective because it’s entirely relevant. Injured workers can return to work sooner, and they’re less likely to re-injure themselves.

If no ergonomic evaluations exist, the injured worker’s doctor can order one. That can help them determine and address whatever is causing the person’s pain. It can also help identify specific modifications you might make to help the employee work more efficiently and productively in the future.

Using ergonomic evaluations helps you communicate safe working practices. That shows employees your company is proactive and serious regarding safety. Ergonomic evaluations also help you reduce injury-related costs for both your company and your employees. Ultimately, these evaluations help everyone prevent injuries in the first place. And isn’t that your #1 goal?

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