Ergonomics Is the Answer

By James Landsman

March 21, 2018 - Recently I stated one of our guiding principles is ‘Ergonomics Is Not The Only Answer.’ The risk in making such a statement is leading people to believe it is okay to leave ergonomics out of the solution set. The truth is—doing so is as risky as believing ergonomics is the only answer.

We see this approach in workplaces every day. Organizations like ours provide a variety of services to address the physical condition of workers, including wellness checks, nurse triage services, early intervention services, and active release or similar massage techniques. Usually their only goal is to address the symptoms of the employee before the situation becomes a reportable injury.

In rare cases the organization will look for the root cause of the discomfort through worksite task audits and address risk through employee training.  However, their focus is often limited to basic body mechanics because they have limited to no ergonomics knowledge and experience.

The problem with either approach is that the root cause is never fully addressed.  Given this, our organization has come to appreciate the following quote:

“There comes a time where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river.  We need to go upstream and find out why they keep falling in.”  

- Desmond Tutu

With this in mind, we believe ergonomics is the solution. It is the way to stop discomfort and injury from occurring by design—through addressing root causes.  It cannot be left out of the solution set. Without it, clients are destined to conclude that addressing symptoms and injuries are simply a cost of doing business.

Here are a couple of closing points to consider:

Ergonomics is an applied science and requires the appropriate training and tools.  Carefully consider your service provider’s experience and capabilities to make the best choice.

We believe ergonomics is the answer BUT is not the only answer. It is essential to address both the physical condition of the worker and the root cause to have the most effective solution.

If you want to have a broad, professional, and honest discussion about your injury prevention program needs, please contact us.