Involving workers in the decision-making process is a vital step to improve productivity and workplace safety. Worker insight can help identify problem areas and effective solutions, and also improve buy-in to implement changes in practice.
The best employers know how to utilize their employees' knowledge to improve the organizational environment and promote human-centered work. This can be accomplished through creating systems for collaboration (Burgess-Limerick et al, 2018). Participatory ergonomics (PE) is a branch of ergonomics drawing on varied mechanisms and initiatives to guide participation.
Here are five PE methods to try:
Participation: Each employee is encouraged to participate in decisions about their own work. This can be done directly when workers have an immediate and personal impact, or indirectly when one individual is chosen to represent viewpoints on behalf of a large number of workers.
Gain support: When using participatory ergonomics to construct programs, gaining support for the program from workers, supervisors, and management ensures consistency. This allows all stakeholders to be on the same page regarding expectations and outcomes, and can further funnel adequate resources in the right direction.
Establish a committee: Creating a steering committee to help manage the process will also provide an opportunity to incorporate members from multiple departments and levels of the organization.
Provide training: Present the right people with the appropriate ergonomics education to minimize their workplace risk. Team members should be equipped with organizational information on how to get tasks done within their team, and as a part of the company.
Group consultation: Utilize group discussion to inform and execute decisions. The group, including workers and senior directors, should be included in the evaluation and resolution processes. This will support effective conversation among all members of the team throughout the entire intervention.
Want to learn more?
The UC Ergonomics Research & Graduate Training Program and Center for Occupational and Environmental Health are pleased to present the Online Ergonomics Training Program. Our goal is to provide experienced and emerging (new) Ergonomists with the latest knowledge, best practices, and preparation so they can get their CPE certification and have a significant impact on worker health and productivity.
Burgess-Limerick, Robin. “Participatory Ergonomics: Evidence and Implementation Lessons.” Applied Ergonomics, vol. 68, Apr. 2018, pp. 289–93. ScienceDirect, doi:10.1016/j.apergo.2017.12.009.