When work brings a high physical demand in both pace and material handling, the probability of a musculoskeletal injury occurring increases exponentially. Regardless of the job’s tasks, proper ergonomic guidance (e.g., training, instruction, coaching and education) is essential for long term wellness and high yield productivity. So what should that training and instruction look like? What should that coaching and education look like? What if you were the one being asked to put the training and instruction to work? Could you do it?
Ergonomics is the study of the human body at work; however, much of the ergonomic training, instruction, and education developed over the years fails to consider true human kinetics. Take, for instance, that old “Safe Lifting” video we’ve all been forced to watch at some point. The work depicted in the video is surely safe; but, is it productive? Can workers actually use the techniques throughout their entire their work day? If you were going through the physical and mental rigors of a 10-hour shift, day in and day out, how would you receive such instruction? Is your instruction reflective of the work itself?
No matter the tasks, ergonomic training should present a clear relevance to the rigors of the processes and jobs at hand.
Imagine being asked to jump into a swimming pool and at the same time being asked not to get wet. This is what it’s like for audiences of an ergonomic training. To this end, it is essential that we, as subject matter professionals, consistently reflect a commitment of “Ergonomic Pragmatism” when providing any instruction. Is our training truly Functional with a capital F?
As Ergonomic Content Experts, all of our instruction should exhibit the acumen of our training/education. It must also provide the highest degree of application to real world job tasks. To do this we must be reflective of the method and manner in which all ergonomic instruction is provided.
Ergonomics must be function-based to better develop human performance.
We must work to dispel any preconceived notions of the mechanical, unnatural, old, ergonomic ways. We must express Function. Our ergonomic guidance must illustrate, indicate, and demonstrate the dynamic functions of movement: flexibility, balance, coordination, proprioception, and kinesthetic awareness.
In order to open the door to Behavioral Change, we must work to seek a “goodness of fit” in everything we do. To enhance Behavioral Change, our work must reach the cognitive root that elicits desired outcomes. This is best achieved by providing our clients with ergonomic solutions of practicality and utility. Working every day with such insight affects behavior and brings change.
We find it helpful to always ask ourselves this question: What if you were the one being asked to change? Would you do it?