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Implementing Controls

Implementing Effective Control Strategies

Ideas for effective ergonomic control measures can be derived from a variety of sources:

  • Employees/work teams who perform the jobs requiring control strategies
  • OSHA agencies in some states have professional ergonomists that can evaluate and offer ideas for improving your ergonomics protection program
  • Trade associations may have information about good control practices for addressing different problem operations within an industry
  • Insurance companies that offer loss control services to their policyholders
  • Private consultants and vendors who deal in ergonomic specialty services and products
  • Networking with other safety professionals and visits to worksites and networking with other safety professionals know how to deal with similar problem operations

The process of implementing controls normally consists of the following steps:

  1. trials or tests of the selected solutions
  2. making modifications or revisions
  3. full-scale implementation
  4. follow up evaluation of control measures

1. Which of the following is the first step when implementing control measures?

a. Follow-up evaluation of control measures
b. Making modifications or revisions
c. Trials and tests of the selected solution
d. Full-scale implementation

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Testing and Evaluation

Testing and evaluation verify that the proposed solution actually works and identifies any additional enhancements or modifications that may be needed. Employees who perform the job can provide valuable input into the testing and evaluation process. Worker acceptance of the changes put into place is important to the success of the intervention.

Making Modifications or Revisions

After the initial testing period, the proposed solution may need to be modified. If so, further testing should be conducted to ensure that the correct changes have been made, followed by full-scale implementation. Designating the personnel responsible, creating a timetable, and considering the logistics necessary for implementation are elements of the planning needed to ensure the timely implementation of controls.

2. Who can provide the most valuable job-related input into the ergonomics program testing and evaluation process?

a. OSHA representatives
b. District managers
c. Employees who perform the job
d. Supervisors

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Full-Scale Implementation

A good idea in general is that ergonomic control efforts start small, targeting those problem conditions that are clearly identified through safety and health data and job analysis information. Moreover, the control actions can be directed to those conditions that appear easy to fix. Early successes can build the confidence and experience needed in later attempts to resolve more complex problems.

Since full-scale implementation represents change in the workplace, it's important to communicate the importance of the change to all affected employees. Education and training are important components that should not be overlooked.

3. It is generally a good idea to have ergonomic control efforts _____.

a. start small
b. fix all problem conditions at once
c. referred to experts
d. focus on employee error

Next Section


Follow-up Evaluation

A follow-up evaluation is necessary to ensure that the controls reduced or eliminated the ergonomic risk factors and that new risk factors were not introduced. This follow-up evaluation should use the same risk factor checklist or other method of job analysis that first documented the presence of ergonomic risk factors. If the hazards are not substantially reduced or eliminated, the problem-solving process is not finished.

The follow-up may also include a symptom survey, which can be completed in conjunction with the risk-factor checklist or other job analysis method. The results of the follow-up symptom survey can then be compared with the results of the initial symptom survey (if one was performed) to determine the effectiveness of the implemented solutions in reducing symptoms.

Because some changes in work methods (and the use of different muscle groups) may actually make employees feel sore or tired for a few days, follow-up should occur no sooner than 1 to 2 weeks after implementation. A month is preferable. Recognizing this fact may help avoid discarding an otherwise good solution. If the follow-up evaluation uncovers new and unexpected risk factors in the task, it may be the result of introducing too many variables into the new procedure.

Long-term indicators of the effectiveness of an ergonomics program can include:

  • Reduction in the incidence rate of musculoskeletal disorders
  • Reduction in the severity rate of musculoskeletal disorders
  • Increase in productivity or the quality of products and services
  • Reduction in job turnover or absenteeism

The above-mentioned indicators offer bottom-line results in evaluating interventions that have been put into place. Other indicators may also be used that represent in-process or interim accomplishments achieved on the path to building an ergonomic program. For example, the extent of the ergonomic training given the workforce, the number of jobs analyzed for potential problems, and the number of workplace solutions being implemented.

There you have it! Now it's time to take the module review quiz. If you have difficulty answering any of the questions, just review the material or send me an email.

4. It is preferable to allow a _____ between implementation of a change and the follow-up evaluation.

a. day
b. week
c. month
d. year

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