Resources - Environment

Training Effective Ergonomics

Identifying and solving workplace MSD problems require some level of ergonomic knowledge and skills. Recognizing and filling different training needs is an important step in building an effective program.

For ergonomics, the overall goal of training is to enable managers, supervisors, and employees to identify aspects of job tasks that may increase a worker's risk of developing MSDs, recognize the signs and symptoms of the disorders, and participate in the development of strategies to control or prevent them.

The educational component of ergonomics training ensures employees are well informed about ergonomic hazards so they can actively participate in identifying and controlling exposures. To be "well informed," includes knowing why using ergonomically safe procedures is important.

Employers may opt to have outside experts conduct ergonomics education and training. If so, the outside instructors should first become familiar with company operations and relevant policies and practices before starting to present the training. Tailoring the instruction to address specific concerns and interests of the worker groups can enhance learning.

Ergonomics Awareness Training

The objectives for ergonomics awareness training are as follows:

  • Recognize workplace risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders and understand general methods for controlling them.
  • Identify the signs and symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders that may result from exposure to such risk factors, and be familiar with the company's health care procedures.
  • Know the process the employer is using to address and control risk factors, the employee's role in the process, and ways employees can actively participate.
  • Know the procedures for reporting risk factors and musculoskeletal disorders, including the names of designated persons who should receive the reports.

Training in Job Analyses and Control Measures

The objectives for training in job analyses and control measures are as follows:

  • Demonstrate the way to do a job analysis for identifying risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders
  • Select ways to implement and evaluate control measures

Training in Problem Solving

The objectives for training in problem solving are as follows:

  • Identify the departments, areas, and jobs with risk factors through a review of company reports, records, walk-through observations, and special surveys.
  • Identify tools and techniques that can be used to conduct job analyses and serve as a basis for recommendations.
  • Develop skills in team building, consensus development, and problem solving.
  • Recommend ways to control ergonomic hazards based on job analyses and pooling ideas from employees, management, and other affected and interested parties.

Special Considerations and Precautions

Training objectives are not intended to have workers, supervisors, or managers diagnose or treat MSDs. Rather, the purpose is to instill an understanding of what type of health problems may be work related and when to refer employees for medical evaluation. The training should include what is known about work and nonwork causes of musculoskeletal disorders and the current limitations of scientific knowledge.

Training should be understandable to the target audience. Training materials used should consider the participants educational levels, literacy abilities, and language skills. This may mean, for example, providing materials, instruction, or assistance in Spanish rather than English.

Open and frank interactions between trainers and trainees, especially those in affected jobs, are especially important. Employees know their own jobs better than anyone else and often are the source of good ideas for ways to improve them. At a minimum, employees must be given an opportunity to discuss ergonomic problems in their jobs as they see them and engage in relevant problem-solving exercises during the training.

Source: OSHA

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