Using the Six Sigma process, Dow challenged a team to identify the primary contributing factors to musculoskeletal disorders and reduce those factors by 70 percent. The team followed a four-step process: measure, analyze, improve and control.
They identified several root causes:
- Employees didn't recognize the importance of ergonomics to their personal well-being.
- Employees did not always follow proper procedures.
- Some furniture wasn't designed or adjusted correctly.
- Ergonomics wasn't emphasized by managers and the business unit.
To solve the problem, the team recommended upgrading work stations and increasing awareness of the importance of ergonomics â€” for both managers and workers. The control step involved education and training and follow-up.
As a result, identified risk factors have been reduced 64 percent since the baseline measurement. The impact on injuries is clear: 53 percent of ergonomic-related injuries in 2001 were lost-time or required advanced medical treatment; only 30 percent of cases were that severe in 2003.
In coming months OSHA promises more documentation on making the business case for safety and health:
- The ergonomics program for office environments developed by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island.
- General safety and health management systems from Auto Parts Manufacturing Corporations.
- Fleet safety for the sales force at Abbott Laboratories.
- Construction project safety from Great American Ball Park.
- Engineering controls to reduce ergonomics hazards from Countryside Care Nursing Home.