Budgeting for ergonomics

Fall is budgeting time for many companies, so I wanted to remind you to include ergonomics in 2022’s budget. We’ve been told by many companies that 2021’s ergo budget was re-allocated for COVID-19 initiatives. That means that MSD prevention projects have been piling up. In Ontario, MSD rates were lower last year than the year before, but I can assure you that was not because “ergo was successful”….sadly, it was because many jobs were not being done.

How much to budget? Here’s a real number.

If you work at a small- to mid-size organization (100-700 employees), you should realistically budget $50,000 for ergonomics support. (We’re assuming that your budget is not responsible for funding interventions (buying equipment, tools, etc.); the department with the issues can fund the intervention, and the ergonomist can help with cost-justification.)

What should you get for that money?

  • Weekly (or more) on-site support from a qualified ergonomist (more below). For $50000, you could afford a novice ergonomist 1-2 days/week who is regularly mentored by an experienced ergonomist all year, or you could have a more experienced ergonomist, 1 day/week all year.
  • Awareness materials such as ergo bulletins and ergo contests
  • Hazard-specific training for employees
  • Technical training for engineers, safety coordinators, and return-to-work specialists

What could an ergonomist accomplish in 2022 for $50,000?

  • Physical and cognitive demands analyses (PCDAs) are the first step for many clients, particularly if claims management and return-to-work are priorities. Ergonomists’ services are often cost-justified based on the impact that PCDAs can have on WSIB costs. In a year, an entry-level ergonomist could complete the highest priority PCDAs for most clients of this size. We hope that your long-term vision will be to transition to injury prevention initiatives in 2023.
  • If injury prevention is the focus for 2022, consider one of these approaches:
    • Create a heat map of your organization by screening all jobs for hazards, identify the highest priorities, complete “deep dive” assessments for those jobs, research and develop recommendations, and support the implementation process
    • Modify your job hazard analyses (JHA) template so that it integrates physical and cognitive demands info, and then create a database of JHAs.
    • Work with employees in jobs where MSD injuries have been reported to identify and document best practices for tasks with known MSD hazards, creating a library of recommended work practices for specific tasks.
    • Using specific work practices (or generic ones from our inventory) develop site-specific coaching plans that will allow supervisors or JHSC members to coach employees to use “ergonomic” work practices.
    • Develop and roll out hazard-specific training for key groups of employees performing the same type of work. This could include developing videos and e-learning that demonstrates, in your workplace, how to apply ergonomics. Or it could be in-person training. You could identify “jobs” where many people are exposed to the same hazard, and create several customized programs. For example, perhaps you are seeing injuries amongst heavy equipment operators, office workers, and custodial staff. Or maybe you have injuries on specific assembly or paint lines.
    • Develop customized stretch and strength programs for employees in various departments, based specifically on the type of work performed.
    • Complete a specific research project to address an issue that you have identified but don’t have the in-house resources to address. You might already have a full-time ergonomist or safety coordinator on board; we can provide the resources to complete special projects that leverage their ideas and skills, without adding to their day-to-day workload. Maybe one of these project ideas will spark your interest:
      • Need to short-list, trial, select and implement the best material handling device for transporting water heaters and furnaces up and down residential stairs? Or the best new patient transfer device? Or the best new utility service vehicle?
      • Want to implement job rotation for an entire department, scientifically?
      • Bringing in a new line but you want to avoid the historical hazards of the previous line?
      • Curious about whether exoskeletons would be effective in a specific department?

If you’d like to run an idea for your 2022 ergo program goals past an ergonomist, give us a call (519-623-7733) or shoot us a message (info@taylordergo.com) and we’ll meet with you. Does your company do deliverable-based budgets? We’ll help you make and execute a plan.

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