OSHA's announcement of its proposed ergonomics standard has resulted in a flood of praise by many ergonomists. The ergonomic community supports OSHA's efforts to help decrease musculoskeletal injuries, improve worker performance and improve the quality of work life.
Dr. James McGlothlin, associate professor of health sciences at Purdue University and ergonomics expert, said the standard is a credit to those businesses who have already recognized the value of ergonomics. "I think it is fantastic that a standard is finally out there. Many businesses have already been promoting good work practices by recognizing the economics of ergonomics in their workplaces. This allows those businesses to be recognized for that effort," said McGlothlin.
McGlothlin said the negative reactions to the standard are coming from those who don't understand the importance of ergonomics. "Those who are against this standard do not realize that this is an asset-driven standard not a deficit-driven standard. Healthier employees are more productive and therefore, can produce a better product. That is better for business," said McGlothlin.
Franz Schneider, president of Humantech Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich., said businesses need to get past all of the hype surrounding this standard and remember that this regulation is the same as the rest. "This regulation is not telling people what to do. It isn't saying form an ergonomics committee and conduct training and so on. It is saying go out and fix the problem," said Schneider. "This regulation is good for both employees and employers because it takes care of the problem."
So what is the ergonomists' best advice for fixing ergonomics problems? They suggest that businesses put some time aside and look into what works.
"Template your ergonomic initiative on the last successful improvement initiative you did and you will be fine. Stick to the basics. That is all this standard is asking you to do," said Schneider.