New Ergonomic Regulations (Occupational Health and Safety Act) were released at the end of last year.
The regulations focus on an integrated programme approach, applied to your current SHEQ programme, whereby the following elements need to be assessed together:
- - An Ergonomic Risk Assessment.
This can aid in identifying, evaluating and prioritising possible ergonomic risks that may occur in areas of a company.
- - Ergonomic Risk Control.
Once a company knows their risks, appropriate controls can be put in place in order to eliminate or mitigate ergonomic risks. These controls also need to be maintained according to current SHE practices.
- - Training & Information
Once a company knows their risk, appropriate training and Information can be provided to staff to increase awareness and create willingness to change work practices or implement controls.
- - Medical surveillance:
As part of prevention, as well as control, medical surveillance is necessary. Once ergonomic risks are known, appropriate questionnaires and examinations can be put in place to prevent, mitigate and reverse the development of any adverse health effects relating to ergonomic risks.
The new regulations apply to:
- - Any person who is exposed or may be exposed to ergonomic risk factors
- - Suppliers, Manufacturers and Designers
What does this mean for your own company?
- - Conducting an ergonomics risk identification assessment can act as a baseline to determine which areas and/or tasks form an ergonomic risk.
- - With a baseline ergonomics risk assessment done, the company can start to implement and integrate ergonomics guidelines systematically into the different layers of the company and consequently allow appropriate controls to be activated.
- - An ergonomic risk identification assessment will show the type of risks employees are exposed to, which enables targeted training and appropriate information to employees.
- - As part of control and prevention of the development of possible adverse health effects (work related musculoskeletal disorders), a review of your current medical programme is necessary to determine whether it currently adequately addresses possible ergonomic adverse health effects.
What does this mean if you are a supplier, manufacturer or designer?
Incorporating ergonomic principles in design can prevent a number of productivity and health issues, especially when taking into consideration the lifespan of a design or equipment. Also, employers will be more critical in terms of the incorporation of human factors into a requested design.
Some examples: Reducing the weight in bulk packaging will reduce adverse health risks to employees that need to lift these bags down the logistical chain.
Another example would be the improvement of furniture (i.e. an office chair or a chair in a TMM vehicle).
Also, the development of more intuitive controls and feedback systems can aid in reducing errors and increase safety.
Overall, good ergonomic practices can increase a company’s total performance
According to the ‘grapevine’ the Department of Labour is set to provide some seminars/road shows in 2020 in order to provide clarity on the new regulations.