Every employer has employees exposed to ergonomic risk factors in the workplace. Whether it is repetitive motion, awkward postures or forceful exertion, all employees face these primary risk factors. These are the most common precursors to a work injury.
More and more employers are providing newly designed and trendy equipment like desktop converters to encourage sit to stand but fail to select the right device, provide proper instruction or recognize when these devices shouldn’t be used at all. Combine these with a lack of understanding on how to set up their workstation correctly, where to place the keyboard tray or electric work surface or even how to properly adjust their ergonomic chair.
Many of these common ergonomic concerns can be alleviated with the use of a trained and qualified in-house ergonomics evaluator. But before you decide to send your select employee to ergonomics training to learn how to perform a preventive ergonomic evaluation for you, answer these twenty questions to be sure you are setting them and your organization up for success.
Do You Have the Right Culture?
An in-house evaluator will only be successful if you have a strong ergonomics process and safety culture to support their evaluations. Defining their role, responsibilities, and expectations are vital to your employee’s accomplishments and your program’s success.
Take a few minutes to answer these questions. The more you can answer, the more likely your in-house evaluator will be able to meet your expectations and help to prevent injuries for you, save money, improve employee productivity, and promote a healthy workplace.
20 Questions to Ask to Assure Your Evaluator’s Success
1. Does your ergonomics policy include preventive ergonomic evaluations?
2. Do you have a budget to invest in your ergonomics process, including the training of your employees to perform evaluations and become appropriately certified?
3. Do you have a database to track and measure your results to show an ROI using an in-house evaluator?
4. Will you share loss control information with your evaluator so they can develop better strategies? Such as OSHA logs, loss runs, and high- risk departments.
5. What do you want your evaluator to know? Office ergonomics only, material handling or other work environments?
6. What are your evaluator’s role and responsibilities in addition to their other essential functions? Will you pay them extra, provide a bonus or incentive, or is this part of their usual and customary job duties?
7. Which departments will your evaluator represent, and will they evaluate outside of their department?
8. How many hours of training do you want your evaluator to have to develop competency? One day, two days or more?
9. Do you want your evaluator certified as Certified Office Ergonomic Specialists or similar credentials?
10. Do you want your employees to be mentored and coached by a Professional Ergonomist to assure competency after training?
11. What are your expectations of your evaluator?
- Who will they evaluate? healthy; new hire; symptomatic; WC/medical
- Who will read their reports?
- Who will implement their recommendations?
12. Do you want your evaluator to prepare official written reports? Handwritten or Typed?
13. What is the time commitment you expect of your evaluator? How long do you want them to do it for? One year, two years or more?
14. What is the expected productivity, or the number of evaluations your evaluator will need to perform? Per Month; during the day?
15. How much time will you allow your evaluator to perform their evaluation and complete the report?
16. Will your evaluator use photography?
17. Who will manage and direct your evaluator and hold them accountable?
18. Will you have monthly case meetings?
19. Who will control the quality and consistency of evaluations and service delivery?
20. How will you track the process of each evaluation, disseminate requests to the evaluator(s) and distribute reports once completed?
Using skilled and trained employees to evaluate other employees can be a slippery slope. Be sure your evaluators are well-respected in the organization, have a good rapport with other employees, and have the qualifications it takes to perform an effective preventive ergonomic evaluation. Also, your evaluators need the backing of your management team to support the process and implement the recommendations.
Establishing boundaries in this process is important such as making sure your evaluators are not asked to perform evaluations on highly symptomatic employees or those with workers’ compensation injuries or employees with known medical conditions. These types of evaluations increase exposure to medical privacy and HIPAA concerns as well as a conflict of interest in medical-legal like workers’ compensation and ADA cases. Too much risk for an in-house ergonomics evaluator. For your medical-legal cases, it is recommended to use a Board-Certified Professional Ergonomist with a healthcare degree like a PT, CPE, or similar qualifications.
Training in-house expertise to help you with your preventive ergonomics evaluations is a great idea for any employer with enough risk exposure and the right organizational culture to make it worthwhile. However, it’s important to set up your evaluator for success.
Based on our studies, preventive evaluations can be 95% effective in claims prevention and avoidance. Also, the cost savings of bringing this service in-house can be calculated by the number of evaluations performed x $300.00-$500.00 per evaluation. At the end of the year, that is a substantial saving for any employer who offers this service internally compared to the investment in training your employee to be a certified office ergonomics specialist or hiring an outside provider.
To learn more about training in-house expertise in conducting preventive ergonomic evaluations, visit us at https://www.worksiteinternational.com/online-ergonomics-certification-course. You can contact me directly to discuss your organizational goals in setting up an ergonomics process with in-house expertise.