• One of the easiest steps a company can take (and one that is included in OSHA’s final standard) is to appoint a person to be responsible for ergonomics training and workplace reviews.

  • This person should work on establishing a policy on ergonomics and help employees report possible problems.

  • Your safety committee should also make ergonomics one of its on-going concentration areas.

  • All work areas should be monitored for problems and modifications should be made if some are discovered. Once changes are made, the committee should make sure modifications are effective.

  • Provide employees with a handbook that discusses ergonomic risk factors like posture and repetition as well as signs and symptoms of musculoskeletal disorders.

  • By educating your workforce and by actively looking for any problems, you will be able to avoid the additional costs of having to treat injuries.

    Source: Charlie Kopin, director of off-site services for Industrial Health Care (IHC), Connecticut's largest occupational health care provider.

    Five ergo actions you can take now

    OSHA’s ergonomics standard goes into effect January 16, 2001, with compliance set to begin no later than October 2001. Here are five steps you can take now to get ready, according to the consulting firm Humantech:

    1) Read the two-page summary of the OSHA rule provided in Appendix B — a clear and concise starting point. The standard’s requirements are spelled out over 25 pages, and the entire document, including the preamble and appendices, runs more than 600 pages.

    2) Review your history of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) to get a grip on just how big of an impact the standard will have on your operations.

    3) Explain to your management team how the standard’s requirements will impact your business.

    4) Identify the gaps between your current ergonomics program and compliance requirements, and begin planning on how to close those gaps.

    5) Train your supervisors and technical staff on ergo problem solving. You can expect an increase in employee reports of MSD signs and symptoms once the standard kicks in, so identifying and reducing hazards now can avoid MSD reports later.