Breaking Down Ergonomic Assessments in the Workplace

Breaking down ergonomic assessments in the workplace.

Ergonomic assessments play a valuable role in the workplace. Environmental Health and Safety professionals and Human Resource management understand and value the importance of ergonomic assessments on employee retention, productivity, and overall job satisfaction.

The impact of lost time from ergonomic-related injuries, not necessarily including catastrophes such as amputation, fires, and even death, is tremendous. Ergonomic-related lost time includes:

  • Strains, sprains, aches, and pains
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Cognitive distractions

An Ergonomic consultant can perform ergonomic assessments with little disruption and offer valuable insight into your work environment and the impact on employee performance and safety.

What is an ergonomic consultant?

An ergonomic consultant works with companies to provide ergonomic reviews and support workers in terms of their efficiency in the workplace. The consultant will assess your operation for ergonomic weakness and offer suggestions for improvement. The evaluation can reduce the risk of injury and increase worker well-being and productivity.

What is an ergonomic assessment?

The assessment objectively evaluates and studies how employees work and identify factors that can contribute to poor performance, lost time, and increased risk of injury.  An assessment is performed onsite through data gathering, observation, and reviewing incidents and accidents. The data is then processed offsite, and an action plan is created.

Ergonomic assessment checklist

The ergonomic assessment is performed using a checklist. A company is evaluated, and the results vary based on industries and company cultures. When creating an ergonomics program, reviewing the Worker’s Comp reports and OSHA 300 logs of injuries and illnesses can be beneficial to examine patterns in the reports. It may help determine if accidents and injuries occur in a particular department, during a specific shift, or within a group.

The Ergonomics three-point checklist includes the following:

  1. ERGO-Active – Stretch-&-Flex Program: An excellent entry-level program to initiate a safety-forward corporate culture.
  2. ERGO-Engage – Participatory Ergonomics Process: A sustainable way to build a lasting safety-forward corporate culture.
  3. ERGO-Insight – Physical Demand Analysis System: A lasting way to build a branded, continuous improvement, safety-forward corporate culture.

Ergonomic Risk Assessment

An Ergonomic Risk Assessment (ERA) is a process used to identify and evaluate the hazards from exposure to ergonomic risks associated with the workplace. Specific actions in the workplace, conditions, or a combination thereof may result in injury or strain, impairing human well-being. ERAs are used to:

  • Predict the possible effects of working conditions on human well-being and overall system performance.
  • Improve performance, job satisfaction, and efficiency.
  • Specify interventions required to manage the risks identified.
  • Reduce the potential for workplace injury and ill health.
  • Reduce the potential for accidents at work.

ERAs are an essential part of any ergonomic program. Department of Employment and Labor

What are the three dimensions of ergonomics in the workplace?

Ergonomics is the study of creating safe and healthy work environments to mitigate risk and injury. There are three different ergonomics types, each focusing on a different part of the worker’s environment.

  • Physical Ergonomics focuses on how people interact with their physical environment. It includes things like workstation setup, lighting, temperature, and other factors in the worker’s physical environment. In addition, physical ergonomics deals with anatomical, psychological, and biomechanical characteristics of human beings in their relationship with physical activity attitudes towards work, handling of materials, frequent injuries due to movement, muscle–bone disorders, organization of working space, safety, and health.
  • Organizational Ergonomics looks at workflow, focusing on increasing efficiency and, equally, employee satisfaction. In addition, organizational ergonomics studies the optimization of socio-technical systems, including their organizational structure, rules, and processes. This ergonomics includes communication, organization of work, teams, and teamwork, communal ergonomics, cooperative work, and management.
  • Cognitive Ergonomics deals with mental processes such as perception, memory, thinking, and mobility and how they are affected by the interaction with the remains of the observed system. The most important aspects include mental effort, decision-making, interaction with computers, human reliability, and work stress. (com)

What is the Stretch and Flex Program?

Assessment results may uncover areas for improvement, including mitigating back injuries, sprains, and strains. According to, Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSD) account for approximately one-third of all injuries in the U.S. construction industry. As a result, many companies have implemented stretch and flex (s/f) programs to reduce WMSD despite a lack of evidence showing effectiveness.

The program will likely be utilized in companies and professions where the body and mind must be healthy and ready to perform their duties- just like professional athletes or other occupations where physical performance is necessary to succeed. Employers see the value in the Stretch and Flex programs and commit time and finances to ensure the program is successful. An ergonomist trainer works in conjunction with the company leaders to identify job titles that have experienced frequent injury or fatigue, creating job-specific drills to build strength and mitigate harm. Stretch and Flex programs:

  • Build focus.
  • Address distractions.
  • Increase coordination and balance.

Organizations of all sizes may subscribe to the program as part of their commitment to building a safety culture. A safety culture embodies the values and processes of creating a safe environment. People want to be safe at work, so engaging employees and management to work together to build a safety culture benefit everyone.

At Catamount Consulting, we put people first.

Catamount Consulting provides leadership, safety, and training for mining, construction, and general industry. We deliver professional safety services, including ergonomic consultation and compliance strategies, at a fair price and with the highest regard for quality and employee safety. Our trainers and safety consultants are available for in-person or offsite training and leadership speaking engagements. Please contact us to inquire about availability or more information about Ergonomic Consulting.

Special thanks to our presenter, Matt Jeffs, DPT PSM REAS. Matt is one of our sought-after instructors at Catamount. Matt works with our clients and applies his expertise in risk exposure relief to enhance a lasting workplace safety culture.  Matt has extensive experience in manufacturing and industrial settings and uses his expertise in ergonomics to educate diverse workforces on how to prevent injury before it happens.

Matt Jeffs, DPT, is a 30+ year educator, ergonomist, consultant, and clinician. As an award-winning Doctor of Physical Therapy, he has successfully rehabilitated more than 25,000 individuals.

ergonomic assessment

Resources: Department of Employment and Labor