Ergonomics as a Key Component in Business: Conference summary

Two weeks ago, our team participated in the CRE-MSD conference held in Burlington, ON, focusing on the critical role of ergonomics in business. If you missed the conference, you can still access the slides. As someone passionate about this subject, I’m excited to share a few takeaways from the event that may improve your understanding of ergonomics in business.

      1. Richard Goggins, a distinguished speaker from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, presented at the conference. He reviewed the current Washington State Cost-Benefit Analysis tool, highlighting a potential future reduction in expected improvements related to behavior-based changes (currently 10-20%) and productivity enhancements (currently 2.5-10%). Goggins is actively developing a risk-based model to assist users in estimating potential improvements in injury costs through a comprehensive risk assessment of existing and proposed job demands. As emphasized during our cost-justification workshop, it’s important for these estimates to be credible for gaining management acceptance.
      2. Dr. Jack Dennerlein from Boston University drew a parallel between Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) and the “canary in the coal mine.” Companies grappling with MSD issues often face more profound systemic challenges. He presented research indicating that organizations consistently implementing workplace health promotion programs tend to outperform the “S&P 500 index” financially. On a related note, I recently came across a social media post that encouraged job seekers to evaluate potential employers’ safety records using the WSIB safety check tool, before applying. Imagine the impact if all job candidates began avoiding workplaces with high MSD injury rates.
      3. The website is set to undergo a comprehensive overhaul by the end of 2023, with an emphasis on improved usability. The redesign aims to tailor the tools you would access based on your specific role, whether you’re a worker or supervisor.
      4. Erin Oliver of Modern Niagara shared sobering statistics regarding opioid use and suicide among tradespeople. She also introduced a relatable “backpack” analogy for discussing mental health with tradespeople, replacing the typical “How are you?” with a more approachable “How is your backpack today?”
      5. The Washington State calculator, a free tool developed by Richard Goggins, has been updated with Ontario injury cost data. This data could be invaluable for our Ontario projects, particularly those with a history of strain/sprain injuries, where our proposed interventions demonstrate a credible potential for reducing injury risk.

    In conclusion, while I initially had concerns that the CRE-MSD conference might render our Taylor’d Ergo cost-justification workshop obsolete, it instead provided an excellent introduction to the topic. In our workshop, we delve deeper into the practical aspects of gathering actual project costs and benefits, conducting experiments, mock-ups, and simulations to estimate the impact of changes on current costs.  There remains strong demand for this hands-on training approach. Join us on November 9 in Cambridge for an immersive learning experience! Learn more and register here.

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