Work System Design Reduces Injuries, Says Researcher

A researcher's study suggests that the work system design approach is effective for reducing injuries and increasing productivity in a competitve and complex work environment.

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Andrew S. Imada, Ph.D., of A.S. Imada & Associates in Carmichael, Calif., won the Liberty Mutual Medal for his scientific paper titled "A Macroergonomic Approach to Reducing Work Related Injuries." Imada was honored at the 14th Triennial Congress of the International Ergonomics Association from July 30 through Aug. 4 in San Diego.

Imada''s paper recognizes workplaces as complex and chaotic human systems. He suggests that traditional interventions alone (engineering, ergonomic, management, psychological or training) do not impact systems because they fail to accommodate the intricacies of real organizations.

This study suggests that the work systems design approach is effective for reducing injuries and increasing productivity in a competitive and complex work environment.

In his paper, Imada describes a macroergonomic intervention in a petroleum company. This intervention changed physical, psychosocial, management and organizational factors.

As a result, the company realized a 70 percent reduction in industrial injuries, a 63 percent reduction in motor vehicle accidents and a 30 percent reduction in unit delivery costs over a 10-year period. The company saved an estimated $1.5 million per year compounded annually.

The Liberty Mutual Medal, with a cash award of $15,000, recognizes outstanding, original research in the field of occupational safety and health.

by Todd Nighswonger

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