A weblog dedicated to Ergonomics education, dicussion and debate. This emerging field has the power to transform industry, business and the lives of ordinary people for the better. The Industrial Athlete intends to encourage and document our profession's vision of an ergonomically-friendly future!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Duke University Gets It: Workers Are The Experts

The operator is the expert. This statement alone can turn around an ergonomics program that has stalled in the workplace. When management tries to dictate change to its workers without consulting them, it often ends up changing little, either because it doesn't properly address the main problem, or the workers, enamoured to their chosen routine, reject it out of hand.

At Duke University in North Carolina, the Ergonomics Division has set up Ergonomics Committees in many of the school's departments. These committees are constituted of workers, and are advised by ergonomists from the Ergonomics Division. In a news article published by the school, the policy of tapping the worker for essential information is illustrated:

About a dozen similar ergonomics committees have formed in other departments across Duke. The committees are overseen by the Occupational & Environmental Safety Office’s Ergonomics Division.

“The goal is to train the peers on the committee so they can serve as our frontline and do the initial assessment,” said Tamara James, ergonomics director. “The committees will help raise awareness and help reduce work-related injuries by improving the physical work environment.”


“It helps to have the committees as our partners,” James said. “They give us valuable input and provide a resource for their co-workers.”

Worker participation is the key to making your ergonomics program a money-maker, rather than a money pit.


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