Good workplace ergonomics for health at work
The ergonomic design of workplaces and work routines will be a central issue at A+A 2015, International Trade Fair with Congress for Safety, Security and Health at Work. With over 1,800 exhibitors, A+A is the world’s leading market and communication platform for occupational health and safety and will be held from October 27 – 30, 2015 at the fairgrounds in Düsseldorf, Germany. By applying ergonomic findings it is possible to increase output and at the same time reduce the strain on the workforce, which leads to greater productivity. In view of current demographic developments, this is more relevant than ever.
According to André Klussmann from the ASER Institute: “Good ergonomic workplace design is an essential aspect in keeping employees at work until their regular pension age and thus counteracting effects such as staff shortages. Over the last few years this issue has also been featured more prominently in German government policies, e.g. by expressly mentioning ‘physical and mental health’ in the German Occupational Health and Safety Act, by including the term ‘ergonomics’ in the amended Industrial Safety Regulation and by mentioning precautions for ‘substantial increases in physical stress’ in the Preventative Occupational Healthcare Regulation.”
The new Industrial Safety Regulation specifically stipulates that employers must include ergonomic considerations when defining working routines and choosing materials, tools and equipment. Such resources must be designed and organized to avoid any incorrect or excessive strain which might endanger the health or safety of the workforce or, if this is not possible, reduce the strain to a minimum.
Focus on ergonomics for visitors and companies
Industrial ergonomics is nothing new, yet it is continuing to gain in importance. Michael Mohrlang, who is responsible for health and safety at BMW in Munich (Germany), stated: “Ergonomics is an interdisciplinary science that impacts most areas of our working lives. Ergonomic findings continue to be relevant, regardless of social developments such as demographic change. Yet demographic change does highlight the importance of implementing the findings that have been gained over a period of decades. The BMW Group therefore continually attempts to apply ergonomic principles on a comprehensive scale, covering all facets of working routines, whether it’s production, office work or integration management.”
It is getting increasingly important to ensure the demographic alignment of workplace design. This is apparent at Continental AG where Klaus-Dieter Wendt is Head of Ergonomics: “Our target for 2020 is the demographic alignment of workplaces for 50% of our workforce. To achieve this goal, we have analyzed and rated all existing production workplaces in Germany under a strain documentation system and have started to rate all workplaces which are either new or which need to be redesigned. This is giving us the ergonomically relevant data for each workplace, so that we can take precautions to ensure its demographic alignment and to make it manageable for both men and women without causing any excessive strain.”
However, to create good ergonomic working conditions, an employer needs to do more than provide the right technicalities. Successful companies are characterized by a clear health and safety customs and a commitment to good, sustainable working conditions. Klaus Tech, Head of Health and Safety at Linde Gas AG, has been coming to A+A for many years: “At our company we have defined health, safety and environmental protection as fundamental principles for all our business activities. Where health and safety are concerned, we are keen to ensure clearly visible leadership, personal responsibility for one’s actions and direct responsibilities at all corporate levels. We see it as one of our core tasks to provide safe and healthy working conditions for everyone who works for us. One decisive factor is that our staff is well motivated and that they receive training.”
Good ergonomic working conditions and resources are, of course, extremely relevant – not only in industry, but also in public services. This is reflected at Munich City Council where Johannes Thallmair is Head of Health and Safety and also a long-time visitor of A+A: ”Over the last few years there have been some clear and positive developments in ergonomics, not just on the manufacturers’ side, but also with regard to its acceptance and its importance within offices. This applies to Munich, in particular: being a fairly large local council, we need to make provision for an increasingly older workforce and design our workplaces accordingly.”
Ergonomics at the A+A Congress
The A+A Congress will reflect the interest among visitors and companies on the subject of ergonomics, while also showcasing new trends and developments. For the first time, each morning and afternoon will start with a keynote. One of the speakers will be Prof. Ralph Bruder, PhD, from the Institute of Ergonomics at the Technical University of Darmstadt (Germany), with a presentation entitled “Humane Workplace Design – Productivity – Prevention: Ergonomics plays a key role in mastering digitization and demographic change.”
A series of presentations called “Ergonomics – from Theory to Practice”, organized by the Commission for Occupational Health and Safety and Standardization (KAN), will provide a comprehensive and practical introduction to the subject. Each presentation will be held from a different perspective (KAN, Siemens AG, Robert Bosch GmbH, Continental AG), illustrating ways to ensure the ergonomic organization of work and design of workplaces. Another series will deal with the subject of office and production ergonomics.
One Congress event will be especially dedicated to the construction industry: “Age-Appropriate Workplace Design in the Construction Industry”. The construction industry has a hard time meeting its shortage of skilled employees. To ensure sustainable performance and quality it is therefore all the more important to adjust working conditions to fit the requirements of an ageing workforce.
Raising awareness through “ergonomics scouts”
Aspects of ergonomics will also be featured in other series. The “Day for Health and Safety Officers”, for instance, will focus on ergonomics. Health and safety officers are now assuming a major role in the organization of health and safety in industry and will be involved even more in the future. They will also receive more training to cover new areas of responsibilities. Speakers such as Markus Bruch (PhD) from RWE will report on the training of health and safety officers to become so-called “ergonomics scouts” at RWE. In particular, the training aims to bring ergonomic expertise into a given department as well as identifying ergonomic design requirements and raising awareness to such issues among the workforce.
Theme parks: Workplace Design and Corporate Health
At the A+A 2015 trade fair, ergonomic workplace design will be highlighted in Hall 10 with the heading of “Health at Work”. In addition to the “Health and Safety Meeting Point” (joint pavilion of non-commercial companies in the occupational health and safety sector), Hall 10 will feature the two special exhibition areas “Corporate Health” and “Workplace Design”. “Corporate Health” has been created specifically for vendors and organizations in the health sector and will include occupational healthcare providers, private healthcare professionals and a range of products and services for addiction prevention.
The theme park “Workplace Design” will include exhibitors of ergonomically optimized workplaces, giving visitors the opportunity to test and compare various workplace solutions. Professional advisors will help attendees comparing and evaluating dynamic seating systems made by various manufacturers.
The “Workplace Design” and “Corporate Health” exhibits will also offer a joint program of short practical talks, panel discussions, presentations and discussions (all with English translation).
New at this year’s A+A will be the guided tours especially geared towards the needs of workand staff councils. The program and the presentations are organized by the German Federal Association for Occupational Safety and Health (Basi) in cooperation with two non-commercial partners: the Center for Health and Society at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf (Germany) and the Association of Ergonomics at the Technical University of Dresden (Germany).
The ergonomic design of workplaces, facilities, tools and machinery helps to ensure safe and healthy long-term employment for the individual employees. With this in mind, A+A 2015 will present the right systems as well as innovative products and services, showing how ergonomic principles can best be implemented in practice. Visitors have expressed considerable interest: at the last staging of A+A in 2013, more than 20,000 of the 63,000 attendees stated that they were interested in ergonomic workplace design.
Details about A+A 2015, exhibitors, their products, services and programs are available online at http://www.AplusA-online.com
For further information on visiting or exhibiting at A+A 2015, contact Messe Düsseldorf North America, 150 North Michigan Avenue, Suite 2920, Chicago, IL 60601. Telephone: (312) 781-5180; Fax: (312) 781-5188; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Visit our web site http://www.mdna.com; Subscribe to our blog at http://blog.mdna.com; Follow us on twitter at http://twitter.com/OccSafety_MDNA
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