What is ergonomics? What is human factors? How can human factors and ergonomics (HF/E) help my business?
“Safety is an attitude. How’s yours?” That tagline was one I created for one of my clients as a way to get the staff and management excited and bought into the new injury prevention system that I was assisting in design and implementation. Attitude is vitally important to success whether it’s in regards to safety, sales, marketing or performance. A company’s attitude towards employee health, wellness and safety will go a long way into attaining zero work-related injuries.
“It was just an accident.” “S/he made a bad judgment.” “S/he behaved unsafely.”
Do any of those causes sound familiar to you? We’ve all heard these or similar reasons for why an injury occurred. However, are they the true root cause? The “cause” for injuries or accidents is typically attributed in some way to “human error”.
Do you think it’s possible to eliminate work-related injuries (in your company)? Is your (company) goal to have zero work-related injuries? I frequently ask these two questions to my clients. The answers (and looks on their faces) are quite varied. There are those who immediately answer the first one by saying it’s “impossible” to have no injuries. I’ve sometimes gotten the sense that they think I’m nuts for even asking the question and thinking that it is possible. With the given response to the first question, their obvious answer to the second question is “No”.
Have you ever thought about the products you use each day and how and why you use them? Consumer products are a huge category to tackle so I’m going to focus in on an item that most of use and/or interact in some way: the car. The “never event” for a car is pretty easy to see—accidents can cause serious injury and/or death. The design of cars has significant HF/E involved in them—good and bad.
Have you ever had an experience with a product or a machine in which you said to yourself, “This is a poor design”? Or, have you ever walked into a space (office, store, restaurant, etc.) find yourself saying, “Why is this here and not over there?” or “What were they thinking (when they designed this)”?
“It’s impossible for me to this because….”
“There’s no way I can do it that way”
“It’s difficult for me to do it that way because…”
“If I did it that way, ____ would happen”
If you’ve heard statements similar to these it’s probably because your employees have obstacles or barriers in their way of performing and doing things the way they’ve been trained or instructed. In this final blog series I’m going to discuss how to approach obstacles and barriers that get in the way of employees doing what they’ve been trained to do.
Continuing on with my blog series on the four common reasons why employees don’t do what they’ve been trained, I’m going to take a closer look at perception. The scenario I’m going to use as the basis for this is one which is occurring in many hospitals and long term care facilities around the country: caregivers not using safe patient handling (SPH) equipment to move patients. This has become a source of frustration for many SPH program leaders. As you will see, the lack of SPH equipment use could easily involve all 4 reasons but for this blog we’ll focus only on perception.
In my last four blogs I’ve discussed four common reasons that contribute to why employees don’t do what they’ve been trained and know to do: habits, perceptions, obstacles and barriers. Before we can address them we obviously need to determine the root cause. We need to know the answers to these questions:
The last of the four common reasons for why employees don’t do what they’ve been trained to do are barriers. Think of barriers as a thick and high brick wall. There is no way for a worker to do what you’ve told them because a wall is in their way. The workers lack the equipment and tools or authority to they need to do their job as they’ve told. Barriers must be addressed and removed as soon as possible as they prevent the ability to perform the task, perform the task safety and/or take safety precautions that control their and their coworkers’ exposure to risk.