One of the most common question I am asked about ergonomics pertains to how to best sustain the program and improvements. Most companies experience very few issues in starting ergonomics, whether that be initial training of an “ergo team” or making primary improvements to a work area. However, sustaining those effects seems to be where things break down. The following are 5 methods to ensure sustainability of ergonomics.
1. Integrate ergonomics into your current methods your company uses for sustaining process, quality and productivity improvements.
- Ergonomics will benefit from the same methods you use to sustain other improvement processes such as Lean, Six Sigma, etc. There’s no need to invent a different system for ergonomics.
2. Focus on the primary objective of your ergonomics improvement system.
- You may have 3-5 goals for your ergonomics program but it’s important to choose a primary goal and keep that in front of your leadership team and employees. Measure, track and graph this on a regular basis. Of course, keep track of the other objectives as well but it’s easier to keep attention on one thing rather than many things.
3. Make ergonomics part of your company’s SOP—the way you do things on a daily, regular basis.
- It’s important to embed ergonomics into your company’s daily work routine. It shouldn’t be a special project that is thought of as “one and done”. Build it into your standard work.
4. Make your primarily objective part of your company’s KPI’s and include on everyone’s scorecard.
- What gets measured gets attention. What is included in your company’s Key Performance Indicators gets even more attention. What is included on everyone’s scorecard (performance review) gets everyone’s attention.
5. Make ergonomics part of the GEMBA walk assessment tool (workplace walk-around assessment)
- Managers, supervisors and employees should be looking for ergonomic improvement whenever they walk around the workplace. If your company currently performs Lean assessments, add in a line item or two for ergonomics.
The above 5 methods will transform ergonomics from just another “flavor of the month” to consistent, effective and sustainable ergonomics process that is part of your company’s DNA. What else have you done to sustain ergonomics? Please share in the comments.