Changing work through ergonomic change teams
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are one of the leading injury causes in Ontario today. IHSA has responded to this problem by providing the education to come up with MSD solutions. By creating ergonomic change teams, companies are coming up with solutions from their own ranks, making the success that much sweeter.
At last year’s Ergonomic Change Team Symposium, participants learned what other teams were working on and took turns presenting the various projects they had pursued over the year.
The ergonomic change team program is based on a participative approach to continuous improvement. Teams are made up of representative employees from various parts of the organization. Members work together to identify opportunities for improvement in work processes, tool and equipment design, work area layout, and work methods.
The team mandate is to develop realistic, achievable, and effective recommendations to prevent identified MSD risk factors or to improve working conditions. Teams will work directly with employees who would be affected by any change.
These teams receive several days of intensive training, and the support of an IHSA ergonomist during the first start-up meeting. IHSA provides ongoing support for the team by making resources available, including web-based materials and a lending library of reference books. IHSA staff are available to respond to questions or concerns that are raised by the teams and provide technical advice as required. IHSA also gives teams ideas or suggestions for projects or initiatives that have been successful in the utility environment.
Last year’s projects included dealing with office ergonomics, MSDs associated with driving small SUVs and large pick-up trucks, and self-assessment tools for workers, among others.
Today, IHSA assists several firms that have created ergonomic change teams. Some utilities have created teams based around office staff, while others also include field workers. Each team is different and focuses on the specific needs of the workplace. Firms such as London Hydro, Horizon Utilities, Westario Power, Hydro One Brampton, and Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro have very different teams. All of them have found success in creating innovative solutions to their specific requirements.
The teams, if they choose, take part in an annual ergonomic change team symposium. This event allows the teams to interact and share ideas with IHSA staff ergonomists who provide professional advice.
If you would like to learn more about ergonomic change teams, please contact IHSA's Carrie Boyle.
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