OSHA’s Worksite Analysis Program for Ergonomics

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Ergonomics Standard is designed to help reduce the high rates of cumulative trauma disorders (CTD) experienced by employees.

OSHA’s Ergonomics Standard

The OSHA Ergonomics standard is voluntary, but acts as a guide for employers who are interested in developing an ergonomics program for their business. A key component of any ergonomics program is the worksite analysis. OSHA has established four essential parts for a worksite analysis program for ergonomics.

The first step in the worksite analysis program is to collect data from all possible sources. Data can be collected from existing medical, safety, and insurance records. These records should be analyzed for work related injuries potentially caused by CTDs. Trends or patterns should be identified as part of this procedure. Through this analysis process, tasks with ergonomic risk factors can be potentially identified. Next, a baseline screening survey should be used to determine where to focus the worksite analysis team’s attention.

A baseline screening survey is a tool used to identify specific jobs that put employees at greater risk of developing CTDs. Employees who perform the identified jobs should be asked to identify job-related tasks that cause them discomfort. Additionally, the employees should be asked it any part of their body hurts while they are performing the job (Occupational Safety & Health Administration, 2013). Using the results of the baseline surveys, jobs requiring an ergonomic job hazard analysis can be identified.

An ergonomic job hazard analysis breaks each job down into the individual actions or tasks performed. Each action should be evaluated for potential ergonomic risk factors that may lead to CTDs. Repetitive actions, forceful exertions, awkward positions, excessive vibration, extreme temperatures, high wrist acceleration, and fatigue are just some of the ergonomic risk factors that should be considered. After the analysis is completed, control measures should be implemented to reduce or eliminate the ergonomic risk factors. Ergonomic training may also be needed in addition to the new control measures. Establishing new control measures to reduce ergonomic risk factors is a very positive step; long term monitoring will help ensure the benefits last.

The final component of the worksite analysis program for ergonomics is to perform regular reviews and surveys to ensure the control measures have had the desired effect. After employees have had a chance to implement and master the new control measures, follow-up surveys should be used to evaluate the changes. The worksite analysis program for ergonomics should be performed regularly to ensure ergonomic risk factors and their associated injuries are   reduced or eliminated (Goetsch, 2011).

Visit OSHAcademy’s course on Ergonomics Program Management for more information about ergonomics.

References    

Goetsch, David L. (2011). Occupational Safety and Health for Technologists, Engineers, and Managers (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall

Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2013). Employee Input. Retrieved from http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/employee_input.html