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By Jack Kester

Choosing what to measure when can make all the difference for your enterprise

The right metrics enable an organization to focus staff members on critical activities and outcomes that achieve the desired revenues and earnings for shareholders. The challenge is to identify those select metrics that will focus your staff on what is most important for your business. Most ergonomics processes have similar elements: an ergonomics team, some form of prioritization system for selecting jobs for analysis, an ergonomics analysis process, ergonomics training, etc. However, many ergonomics processes do not provide enough detail to create measurable process tracking and effective metrics. Most processes do not provide enough meaningful feedback to management or provide a structure for engaging management in the process. One of the most important elements of an ergonomics process is an objective method for prioritizing risk in the workplace. The ergonomics process should define how and when a risk assessment will be performed and how risk will be prioritized.

Metrics can be developed to track significant risk assessment activities to enable management to track the implementation of the process. For example, some meaningful metrics on risk assessment may include:

  • The percentage of jobs/tasks with completed risk assessments compared to the time frames in the ergonomics process
  • The percentage of new or revised workstations with risk assessments completed within 30 days
  • The percentage (or number) of ergonomics solutions implemented that achieved significant risk reductions based on a post-implementation risk assessment validation

The key to making this work is to ensure we are measuring the right things at the right times. Long-term metrics focus on the intended outcomes of the ergonomics process once it has had time to be implemented and become normalized. Short-term metrics reveal effective application of the process.

Short-term metrics, which have a time frame of zero to three years, focus on the implementation and quality of performance for significant ergonomics activities, such as:

  • Percentage of risk assessments performed within the process timelines
  • Consistency of the scoring in the risk assessment process
  • Ergonomics job analyses performed for the selected number of jobs/tasks defined as “high risk” within the risk assessment process
  • The number of ergonomic analyses completed for high-risk jobs with a range of potential solutions presented to management with data on the potential impact on the “risk score” and the estimated return on investment of each solution option
  • Management decisions made on the solutions presented for the high-risk jobs within the time frames designated by the ergonomics process
  • The number of ergonomics solutions implemented for high-risk jobs
  • The number of validations of the reduction in the risk score and the return on investment for ergonomics solutions implemented
  • The number of cases of senior management involvement or engagement in critical and visible ergonomics activities, such as behavior observations after the implementation of ergonomics solutions, observation of risk assessment activities performed by the ergonomics team, ergonomics solution brainstorming sessions, etc.
  • The frequency of the status reports to management as defined within the ergonomics process

Typical long-term metrics for ergonomics processes include:

  • Number of ergonomics solutions implemented for highrisk jobs
  • Percentage of successful outcomes for the ergonomics solutions implemented, including measurable risk reductions, quantifiable productivity gains and acceptable ROIs
  • Number for workers’ compensation claims related to musculoskeletal disorders
  • Average cost per claim for musculoskeletal disorders
  • Total claim costs for musculoskeletal disorders