Johnson & Johnson Takes Worldwide Approach to Ergonomics

Aug. 30, 2001
Safety and health experts from Johnson & Johnson explain the strategy behind the company's worldwide ergonomics program.


Implementing a worldwide ergonomics program at a major corporation like Johnson & Johnson takes planning and strategy. Johnson & Johnson''s ergonomics strategy simply called, "Ergo," focuses on job design, training, treatment of ill workers, regulations and assessment.

Several representatives from the company''s corporate health and safety group were on-hand at the Voluntary Protection Programs Participants'' Association conference in New Orleans this week to explain the companies ergonomics strategy.

Dr. Joseph Van Houten, director of worldwide planning, process, design and delivery for Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, N.J., outlined the eight points of that strategy the company uses to implement ergonomics throughout all of their facilities. They include the following:

  • 1. Consistency. Assuring accuracy and consistency among ergonomics guidelines.
  • 2. Design for ergonomics. Create integrated safety through design processes that include ergonomics.
  • 3. Holistic medical intervention. Deploy a worldwide health and wellness strategy aimed at the treatment and prevention of ergonomics injuries both on and off the job.
  • 4. Process excellence. Use six sigma approach, lean thinking and design excellence for ergonomics.
  • 5. Professional resources. Continue and enhance global ergonomics network.
  • 6. Reduce ergonomics risk profile. Evaluate and control ergonomics risks of all existing processes and use tools to evaluate these risks.
  • 7. Regulatory impact. Influence and implement global regulations for ergonomics.
  • 8. Metrics, management and communication. Communicate both leading and lagging indicators, share best practices and execute committee champion.

"The expectation of our Ergo strategy is to improve worldwide ergonomics awareness, improve the reporting of work related ergonomic medical cases, eliminate risks, reduce compensation costs and ultimately create an injury-free workplace," said Van Houten.

Monica Matlis, ergonomist with Johnson & Johnson explained that the Ergo program is not compliance driven. "This is a culturally driven approach to ergonomics," said Matlis. "We realize that not everyone at our facilities are ergonomics experts. Ergo is the recommended method for helping the entire Johnson & Johnson organization develop a mutual ergonomics culture."

Matlis said that when implementing the Ergo program, Johnson & Johnson facilities follow six steps:

  • 1. Management at that facility establishes a small team to become familiar with ergonomics.
  • 2. That team trains themselves on how to make simple easy fixes to prevent ergonomic injuries.
  • 3. The team does a site-wide assessment to identify the highest ergonomics risks.
  • 4. The team seeks solutions and trains all employees on all levels.
  • 5. Audit the facility and support systems.
  • 6. Maintain the ergonomics culture and ensure that it becomes part of the design process.

Anthony Wright, staff ergonomics engineer with the company, said implementing ergonomics through design is an important component of the overall Ergo strategy.

"You do not want to introduce new procedures that increase ergonomics injuries," said Wright. "Applying ergonomics principles to the design of new processes reduces the potential for future injuries, saves money associated with ergonomics injuries and eliminates the cost associated with retrofitting equipment."

by Virginia Foran

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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