Have you heard that “RSI awareness day” is February 29, 2016? Wondering how to use this day to raise the awareness of ergonomics at your company? “Awareness” is often a huge focus during the launch of an ergo program, but efforts sometimes wane over time. Even well-established ergonomics programs, with full-time ergonomists, need to boost awareness periodically. We want employees to always be on the look-out for ways to improve their own comfort, productivity, quality, and safety. We all need a little reminder to come back to a “neutral” posture at our desk or workstation, to stretch once in a while, or to lift with that low-back curve intact. Use February 29th as an opportunity to bring ergonomics back into the forefront of minds in your facility.
Check out the Ontario Ministry of Labour’s suggestions for how to promote ergonomics on February 29th. Or, consider some of these awareness initiatives:
- Pick an ergo “technique” and run an ergo-blitz. For example, in your office, send out an email message reminding people how and why to adjust the lumbar support on their chairs. (Adjustable low back support is the most under-utilized, yet vitally important chair feature! Make a youtube video showing how to adjust the chair that’s most common in your office.) Or promote one of the lifting techniques that are relevant in your workplace. Then go out to the workplace and reward people who have their backrests adjusted appropriately, or are using the lifting tip you’ve promoted. This is a great initiative for your Ergo Team or JHSC. You don’t need big prizes – chocolate, pens, or loonies will do the trick! But if you want some help with prizes, let us know.
- Run an ergo awareness contest. Create a puzzle or scavenger hunt to get people looking for “ergo-opportunities”. Need some help? For RSI awareness day, we’re offering a contest package for you to run on-site, including $100 worth of “ergo” prizes, for $350 plus shipping (up to 500 copies). The contest (a word search) focuses on techniques that employees can use to improve their comfort and safety at work. You can select your prizes from our available merchandise list (some of which are shown above). We’ll add your company logo to the contest handout at no extra charge.
- Provide focused training for groups of employees with similar job demands. Want some free on-line training? Office employees can benefit from the Institute for Work and Health’s office ergonomics e-learning program. Better yet, create your own training. If employees in a particular department face unique “ergo” challenges, help them to use the resources available to improve their situation. Or let us help you, using the training we’ve already developed…we could run a training session for office workers in the morning, and a session for material handlers in the afternoon. Or perhaps a session for production employees in the morning, and a session for drivers in the afternoon. Between sessions, we can provide one-on-one job coaching, to help employees implement what they’ve learned. All of our sessions focus on techniques that employees can use to minimize their own risk. All sessions are very “hands-on”; participants come away having experienced the difference between a “good” and “poor” ergo condition. We can run up to 4 sessions in one day ($1100 for the day, plus materials, expenses, and HST). As of press time, we have three ergonomists available on February 29, and we book on a first-confirmed basis.
- Sign up for a seminar to brush up your skills. The Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) is hosting a free seminar on ergonomics on February 29th. Or register for an ergo conference, like the June 20-23 PREMUS conference in Toronto. Or make a serious commitment to ergonomics this year by working on your abstract for the Association of Canadian Ergonomists conference, to be held in Niagara in the fall.
- Tack up some ergo posters! Make your own, step-by-step “How to adjust your [chair, work bench, lift table]” posters, and post them prominently. For added “bang”, enlist a manager or your CEO to model for the posters. If you’re looking for something easier, we have posters to help employees set up their office workstations, to lift safely, to adjust their vehicles and driving postures, and to stretch. Posters are approximately 10×14”, with professionally drawn graphics. Mix’n’match – pricing is by total volume, so buy more and save! ($5 each, $3.60 each for 10 or more, $3 each for 25 or more, $2.40 each for 100 or more. Shipping and HST are extra.) You can also find some free posters online, including this stretching poster from Workplace Safety North . (Our stretches were designed to be used at work – no need to lay on the floor.)
- Re-charge your ergo team with some training, and/or some tech support from our ergonomists. Stuck on a project that seems to have no solution? We can come to your site to facilitate training that helps to encourage non-traditional solutions. Or hire us for a day to come in and give you feedback, direction, or run some technical analyses to help you justify a capital expense.
- Promote your successes. If you’ve implemented a change in your facility, no matter how small, make sure that you let people know! Use “before” and “after” photos and measurements to help explain what you did and how it affected people. Use pre- and post-intervention discomfort surveys, or even anecdotal comments from the employees who were affected.