Safetip #107: Address Ergonomics in a Safety Committee
A Safety Committee Should Also Discuss Ergonomic Hazards
The formation of safety committees is a regulatory requirement in many jurisdictions. Many states in the U.S. require companies to have safety committees if they have more than a certain number of employees. Federal and provincial legislation in Canada includes requirements and guidelines for “Joint Health and Safety Committees”. In addition, many European countries also require safety committees. Safety committees contribute to strengthen a safety culture by bringing together workers and employers.
A safety committee must review unsafe conditions, near misses and incidents, and assess hazards. In addition to safety hazards, health hazards must also be identified, including ergonomic hazards. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2013, musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) cases accounted for 33% of all worker injury and illness cases in the U.S., which is why all types of hazards should be discussed by a safety committee, including ergonomic hazards.
Ergonomic Topics to Discuss
A safety committee is the ideal forum to discuss ergonomics because it brings together key stakeholders who are responsible for the success of a safety and health program. Ergonomic topics that can be discussed in a safety committee include, but are not limited to:
- Definition of goals and objectives of an ergonomics program.
- Communication of the goals and objectives of the ergonomics program to employees.
- Implementation of the ergonomics program.
- Ergonomics training to employees.
- Identification and assessment of ergonomic hazards and problems.
- Encouraging the reporting of symptoms of MSDs and other issues.
- Controlling risks of MSDs.
- Evaluating progress and the effectiveness of the ergonomics program.
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