Leading Measures Preventing MSDs and Driving Ergonomic Improvements
- Walt Rostykus (Humantech) | James Mallon (Humantech)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- September 2017
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 37 - 42
- 2017. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 1 in the last 30 days
- 10 since 2007
- Show more detail
- Traditional safety metrics of injury rate and losses are poor measures of workplace ergonomics or predictors of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
- Current research and valid assessment tools allow reliable measurement of exposure to the risk factors that cause MSDs. Coupled with the threshold limit of joints in the body, this allows reliable prediction of tasks with increased potential for developing an MSD.
- Leading risk-based measures for MSDs enable sampling, predicting, preventive actions, and verification of risk exposure. This approach fits well within the structure of a comprehensive safety management system.
Improving ergonomics to prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) is a key element of OSH programs for most organizations. MSDs are a major cause of losses and a persistent source of frustration. The authors have heard from OSH managers about the challenges in proving to their top managers the effectiveness and value of their current ergonomics program. Through benchmarking studies and experience working with Fortune 1000 companies, the authors have determined that the success or failure of an organization’s ergonomics program depends on the selection of a few correct measures. Unfortunately, traditional lagging safety measures, specifically injury/illness rates, are still used by many safety managers to drive struggling ergonomics programs (Aon, 2016; Humantech, 2011). The OSH profession has identified reliance on lagging measures as a root cause for failed and ineffective ergonomic improvement programs.
This article details the few leading measures specific to MSDs that are proven to ensure leadership support and resources, and to sustain the ergonomic improvement program across multiple locations and across time. It also provides definitions and illustrations of different types of measures to enable OSH managers to better evaluate and select the optimal measures for their organizations.
Traditional Safety Measures Applied to MSD Management
To understand the best measures for managing MSDs, one must understand the foundation of the most commonly used safety measure, the injury/ illness rate. Use of this lagging measure began in 1972, with reporting injuries and illnesses to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) through the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII), and it became the basis for the OSHA recordkeeping requirements in 1978 (OSHA, 2009).
|File Size||552 KB||Number of Pages||6|