Is Your Safety Team Equipped to Win?
Football is a great game; twenty men with a small piece of leather sewn and inflated. The idea: get that inflated piece of leather across the finish line in the hands of one of those players. Both teams show up with strategies, game plans and goals. The outcome of the game depends on the decisions they make along the way.
The workplace is very much like this game. Companies have strategies, game plans and goals with a team of people whose decisions determine the profitability and sustainability of the company. Most of the team members spend the majority of their day preparing for, getting to and being at work. How they do their work can not only affect their job but also every other facet of their lives.
The study of people’s efficiency at work is called Human Factors & Ergonomics (HF&E). The goal is to evaluate whether things are being done the "best way;" from the proper glove, to the correct forklift, to the boots being worn and the mat being walked on. Are desks the right height and are chairs suited to the task at hand? Would something heavy be better stored a little higher so picking it up would not be so strenuous?
Optimizing the evaluation process can also improve the safety of processes. An important question to answer is, “Can the design of a process be engineered in such a way that it reaches optimum safety from the beginning?” The main safety goal when evaluating processes should be to reduce Musculoskeletal Disorders or MSDs. These include a vast list of possible injuries or disorders to muscles. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) often plays a large part in the reduction of injuries and they can be sometimes be used for multiple applications. One case in particular that comes to mind is the development of coal handlers’ gloves. They were engineered with special padding to protect workers from back of the hand injuries. This glove evolved so many different ways it not only protects coal workers but it has now reached as far as NASCAR pit crews.
Another important part of evaluating HF&E is to identify elements which can be controlled and then plan for those that cannot be controlled. One way to mitigate uncontrollable elements is to put together an HF&E team to assess efficiency in real time. Frequently, the best candidates for such a team are those performing the function to be assessed. This team should be considered the first line of defense against MSDs. They will help to establish goals and find solutions to problems as they are discovered.
Meeting goals and, above all, finding safe solutions that become best practices is like getting that piece of leather across the line into the end zone. If you are ready to score big and need a little help choosing the right protective equipment for your team, call your local ORR Safety account manager.