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Ergonomics: Technology Lagging in Program Management

Ergonomics: Technology Lagging in Program Management

A recent survey from Humantech finds that many companies continue to kill trees to manage ergonomic programs.

Most ergonomics programs still are managed using paper-based methods, according to the results of a recent survey by Humantech on the use of computer technology for managing ergonomics programs. Most companies using software to manage ergonomics have adapted general-purpose programs, however there is a trend among multiple-site companies to move towards specialized ergonomics software.

Published in the report, “The Role of Technology in Managing Ergonomics Programs,” the survey was conducted as part of an ongoing process to better understand the practices of managing occupational ergonomics in today’s workplace. The goal was to build on the information gathered in past benchmarking studies on world-class ergonomics programs.

“One of the greatest challenges in managing ergonomics in today’s workplace is the administration of program data,” said Humantech Vice President Walt Rostykus. “The current ergonomics software solutions really help, plus they make records available to all people at all sites in real time.”

The survey consisted of 14 questions and was completed by participants from 195 companies, representing a variety of industries and workplaces. The questions addressed the use of computer programs, online training, handheld devices and other technology used in current processes. The questions can be found in the appendix of the survey report.

As a result of this survey, several findings were identified. Some include:

  • Most ergonomics programs (59 percent) still are managed using paper-based methods, and most companies using software (55 percent) have adapted general-purpose software tools (Microsoft Word, Excel, FileMaker) to meet their needs.
  • There is a trend of programs moving from hard-copy methods and general-use tools to systems that are specific to ergonomics.
  • Training and data management are two program elements that most often use computer technology.
  • Work tasks and environments vary (office, field work, production, health care, etc.), requiring software and hardware tools that are flexible and scalable.
  • Access, usability and overall user experience are critical elements of an effective ergonomics tool. 
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