The Workplace Ergonomics Program
This document contains the information needed to carry out an ergonomics program. Specifically, it provides information on the goal, objectives, and principles of the program and the responsibilities of staff, management, support offices, and service unit ergonomics teams for the program.
The Workplace Ergonomics Program was established to optimize worker health, safety, and productivity, and minimize physiological and psychological stress utilizing consultative management.
The goal of the Workplace Ergonomics Program is to reduce and/or prevent work-related injuries and illnesses by establishing a methodology for identifying ergonomic stresses in the workplace and for implementing appropriate interventions.
The objectives of the Workplace Ergonomics Program, as administered by the Workplace Ergonomics Program Coordinating Committee, are:
To identify existing and potential conditions in the workplace that could lead to injuries and illnesses.
To reduce and/or eliminate exposures to such conditions through effective workstation and tool design and through proper work methods.
To ensure evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of repetitive strain disorders, and to provide avenues for prevention.
To ensure that staff are sufficiently informed about ergonomic hazards to which they are exposed so they may actively participate in their own personal protection through training and education.
Management Commitment and Employee Involvement
Management commitment and employee involvement are crucial to the success of the ergonomics program. Management commitment is demonstrated by the provision of organizational resources and the assignment of accountability for the program. Employee involvement is necessary not only for identifying existing and potential hazards, but also for participating in their own personal protection.
Management commitment provides visible involvement of managers at all levels. It places a high priority on eliminating ergonomic stressors while assigning and communicating the responsibilities for various aspects of the program and requiring accountability for fulfilling those responsibilities in
a timely manner. Management provides authority and adequate resources to meet the assigned responsibilities.
Employee involvement can be achieved through the implementation of an employee complaint/suggestion procedure; encouraging early reporting of injury/illness symptoms; involvement in the consultative management process associated with this program; and training for active participation in their own personal protection.
Below is a partial list of actions to be undertaken to achieve management commitment and employee involvement:
Require that all affected employees, including their supervisors and managers, take ergonomics training.
Include statement of responsibility for safe and healthful work environments and policy directives.
Inform service unit heads that they are to assign responsibilities for program implementation to service unit ergonomics teams and other administrative personnel, as appropriate, and provide staffing and financial resources for implementation.
Hold service unit heads accountable for the progress of the program in their service unit.
Provide suggestion/complaint boxes for ergonomic safety/health issues within each service unit. Require a response to each suggestion/complaint.
Encourage staff to report symptoms of discomfort promptly to supervisor, health professional, or service unit ergonomics team.
Include bargaining unit staff in service unit ergonomics teams.
Issue memorandum to staff announcing the program.
Distribute summaries of this program document to all staff via "The Gazette" and service unit distribution channels.
Program Review and Evaluation
The Workplace Ergonomics Program shall be reviewed on an ongoing basis. The Workplace Ergonomics Program Coordinating Committee is responsible for developing a program evaluation mechanism, and producing progress reports for management and staff.
Further, the Workplace Ergonomics Program Coordinating Committee meets periodically throughout each year with service unit ergonomics team leaders to assess progress. This mechanism assures that WEPCC provides the needed support to the service unit teams.
Workplace Ergonomics Program Coordinating Committee is responsible for overseeing, coordinating, supporting, and reviewing the ergonomics process. The responsibilities are:
- Establishing performance expectations and benchmarks in consultation with the service unit ergonomics teams
- Coordinating problem resolution in areas that affect more than one service unit
- Providing assistance and advice on technical matters to service unit ergonomics teams
- Reviewing program and reporting to management and staff
Service unit ergonomics team bears responsibility for operating the Workplace Ergonomics Program within the service unit. The team is specifically responsible for:
- Performing surveillance, analysis and design of jobs
- Identifying specific training needs
- Coordinating its activities with Facility Design and Construction, Health Services Office, Safety Services and labor organizations. Reporting to the WEPCC and to the service unit head
Supervisors are responsible for:
- Cooperating with the service unit ergonomics team
- Referring employees with health concerns to Health Services in a timely manner
- Reporting work area hazards promptly to the service unit ergonomics team
- Notifying the service unit ergonomics team when a work area needs analysis
- Assisting in the correction of existing and potential hazards
- Assuring that recommendations are implemented following analysis
Staff members are responsible for:
- Reporting work area hazards upon becoming aware of their existence
- Cooperating with the service unit ergonomics team
- Providing input to job analysis and design process
Actively engaging in their own protection by following recommended work practices and suggestions of work area consultants
Labor organizations are responsible for:
Appointing a representative to each service unit ergonomics team
Encouraging early reporting of symptoms by employees and referring those employees to appropriate offices
Bringing ergonomic problems and potential problems to the attention of the service unit ergonomics teams and other responsible officials
Facility Design and Construction (FD&C) is responsible for design and layout of work areas to assure compliance with applicable standards. FD&C staff participate in job analysis on an as-needed basis. Where ergonomic interventions are required, FD&C provides advice and assistance to the service unit ergonomic teams to identify the best possible solution. FD&C maintains information on ergonomically-correct furnishings and equipment. FD&C is also responsible for:
Advising as to feasibility of adjustments to existing furniture
Identifying adjustments to furnishings that can be made by the user
Identifying adjustments requiring professional installers -- Reviewing requests for service for workstation modifications, including preparing drawings and scheduling installers as necessary
Helping in the selection of ergonomic furniture/accessories requiring purchase, including review of all purchase requisitions
Health Services Office is responsible for the medical surveillance element of the Workplace Ergonomics Program. The Health Services Office serves as a consultant to the WEPCC and service unit ergonomics teams, providing instruction in the prevention, early recognition, evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of repetitive strain disorders.
The Health Services staff assesses presenting signs and symptoms and, based on findings, directs follow-up analysis and/or treatment. Within staffing constraints, the Health Services Office's responsibilities include:
- Recognizing employee injury/illness problems with ergonomic influence
- Participating in ergonomic evaluations of work
- Identifying restricted-duty jobs
- Performing periodic walkthroughs with service unit ergonomics teams
- Providing wellness education initiatives
- Analyzing health surveillance data and evaluating results -- Reporting findings and recommendations
- Participating in the development of interventions and reevaluating previous actions
Safety Services provides support to the WEPCC and service unit ergonomics teams in the areas of safety, mishap/injury prevention, industrial hygiene, environmental health, and emergency response. Within limitations, influenced by availability of resources, Safety Services' responsibilities are:
- Reviewing injury reports for evidence of cumulative trauma injury
- Compiling and reporting injury statistics related to injury cause factors
- Disseminating general and specific job safety and health information
- Providing expert advice and guidance in the field of safety evaluations and ergonomic job analysis and design
- Establishing and maintaining a hazard abatement program
- Reviewing equipment acquisitions