Do It Yourself Ergo? (Not So Fast!)

Woman in a small office

When we first started, almost 15 years ago, there were many organizations which were still afraid of the word “ergonomics” like it had cooties or a plague of locusts would descend on any who uttered its name! There was not always company “buy in” and ergo was often viewed as an ancillary & nagging issue better left to the folks at HR, where, unfortunately,  many of the misunderstood or “unimportant’ but necessary evils reside. A reactive approach to ergo was the order of the day, with many companies waiting for actual worker’s comp claims as the signal that there might be a need for an “ergo intervention”.

Even many of the most forward thinking organizations, would temper their ergo response and deal with ergo from an equipment perspective. If an employee was having an issue, get him/her a new keyboard, chair or the like and “Let’s put the issue to bed and move forward!” Many of the behavioral components of ergo, such as : posture, movement and work duration were given short shrift in favor of “quick fixes”.

It wasn’t until the evidence was so compelling and the incident rate of computer related RSI was burgeoning that ergo was taken more seriously, to the point where today it is viewed much more as a mainstream employee  and employer concern. Both employers and staffers alike are more sophisticated and knowledgeable where ergo is concerned and it has become part of most organizational orientations and yearly health and safety reviews.

Well here we are and isn’t it great! Our work is almost done! Time to move on to the next important issue confronting workers! Well, not so fast!

One of the lingering and persistent issues from the past is the view that if you show someone the ropes, they too can provide evals for the company! Let’s have the receptionist take a weekend course in ergo, give her a tape measure and an equipment manual and turn her loose! Or they ask us: “Can you train our HR Team how to do ergo evals?”

Whoa! Not so fast! What I say to this attempt by a company to reduce ergo to a simple task, is some form of the following:

1:  Would you have your friend, who just read the Nolo Press book on accounting, prepare your taxes for you?

2: Would you ask a Criminal Justice student to represent you in a law suit?

3: Would you ask your Uncle Ike, who is good with lawn mower engines to work on the company helicopter?

So, while the importance of ergo is more understood and taken more seriously, we still need to make the impression that who delivers the message is just as important as the message itself! I think we are making progress here as well, but sometimes it is slow going. Of course, we try not to act offended and educate our clients that ergo is a serious discipline performed by professionals and people with years of experience at spotting and correcting potentially calamitous behaviors and setting employees up to be healthy and productive while they work (and even when they are at leisure!)

I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!

Andrew Blumenfeld, M.A., PBE Co-Founder

For more information check out our website for onsite and online solutions.





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