According to Dr. W. Edwards Deming, the father of quality, as quality improves, costs go down and productivity increases. Quality and productivity can be continually improved for better profitability. These are the same drivers that steer a company towards improving their workers’ compensation management and ergonomics process.
Many companies encourage employees to drive the change in safety behaviors and productivity improvements. For example, they may provide employees with back safety belts and training to protect them from low back injuries. The reality is that some of the responsibility may come from the employee’s poor work practices of lifting, but it is more likely the set up of the task, task demands, productivity demands, tools and materials, and the work layout which is ultimately designed by management. These are primary risk drivers.
Are Workers’ Responsible for the Work Routine?
Workers’ don’t determine the layout of the plant, the room temperature, the amount invested in research, development, and training. They don’t buy the equipment, tools, and materials or design products. They don’t determine 90% of things responsible for quality. Why then does management want to hold them responsible? When employers provide back supports and training… the message can be construed by the employee to mean, “What you are doing is causing your injury, not us. You need to change, not us.”
While workers play a critical roll in safety and ergonomics, it is management’s responsibility to change the system so that quality and productivity can improve, and workers can experience pride of workmanship along with reduced risk of injury. In this way, worker input becomes part of the process which in turn helps to drive quality.
What exactly is quality?
According to Deming, quality is made in the boardroom or c-suite as it’s called today. Quality is pride of workmanship. If quality is integral to the product or service, then quality is a function of management. As quality improves, costs go down and productivity increases. Quality and productivity can be continually improved.
Given the above, I’ve developed this formula to relate Quality to Ergonomics:
- Quality= Pride of Workmanship.
- Workmanship=the art or skill of a work man.
- Ergonomics = the interrelationship of man and work (tools, materials handled, tasks performed).
- Therefore…Quality = Ergonomics.
It is management’s policies that can limit quality or encourage improvement. Most managers need better knowledge to maximize quality in the areas of safety management and ergonomics. This knowledge can be improved through training. Training will lower costs, reduce risk and improve the dollars saved in these areas.
Training is a critical part of improvement and is management’s responsibility, no other. Management training in these areas must be done right the first time or if learned incorrectly, economic and personnel hardships will follow further diminishing quality.