Friday, September 01, 2006

Motivating ergonomic behaviour

Article by Robert Pater presented June 2006 at ASSE's (American Society of Safety Engineers) annual Professional Development Conference. Summarised here

Many organisation have employed engineering solutions to improve ergonomics. They have been successful, but improvements have plateaued. Behaviours need to really change for further improvement.

Pater states that "leaders incite change by motivating receptivity and trial of new behaviors, transferring critical mental and physical skills and reinforcing improved performance – all with a goal of setting positive, safe default habits." He proposes a seven stage approach

1. Set and assess ergonomic-motivating objectives - realistic expectations
2. Identify barriers to ergonomic receptivity and behavioral change.
3. Energize all - move from just prevention to personal benefits of fitness
4. Spark involvement - simultaneous topdown/bottom-up "scissors" approach
5. Focus on home, as well as work
6. Build critical ergonomic skill sets, both mental and physical
7. Make it (self) reinforcing - publicise plans and success, get everyone talking about it.

To achieve involvement managers can help select the leading ergonomic indicators they deem valuable. Supervisors are involved in setting the timing for and reinforcing action changes. Some employees might be trained to become "peer catalysts," who are agents of ergonomic behavioral change. And all workers can select and monitor personal ergonomic objectives.

Pater lists skills sets that can be taught as
seeing your own level of accepted risk;
directing attention at will;
recalling policies/procedures/techniques;
understanding and applying underlying ergonomic principles;
maximizing leverage to maximize effective strength;
heightening balance;
improving eye-hand coordination;
boosting flexibility/range of motion;
reducing fatigue;
controlling breathing;
effective preparation and recovery methods.

Andy Brazier

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