Changes to the workplace represent both risks and opportunities for ergonomics. The risk of change is that without considering ergonomics, new challenges can be introduced. For example, a company became aware that product finish problems (scratches) were sometimes occurring but the source was unknown, so a Six Sigma green belt project was initiated. The root cause was identified - the metal table that the assembly was placed on while adding a label - and the countermeasure of adding a rubberized mat to the table was implemented.
Unfortunately, the rubberized mat made it so that workers could no longer position the heavy assembly on the front edge of the table and slide it back. Now they had to gently lower it into position, farther away from their body, greatly increasing the biomechanical stress to the back and shoulders. Luckily no injuries were reported, although complaints of neck and back pain quickly arose. The situation was revisited, and the rubberized mat was replaced with a plastic table top that facilitated sliding the object from the front edge of the table while eliminating the potential for scratching.