Ergonomic checkpoints: Practical and easy-to-implement solutions for improving safety, health and working conditions

There is growing awareness of the need to apply practical action in the workplace to reduce work-related accidents and diseases.An increasing focus is placed on the application of ergonomic principles in view of their great potential to improve working conditions and productivity. Experience is being gained in applying ergonomics to workplaces in different sectors and industrial situations in both developed and developing countries, with tangible results in the reduction of occupational accidents, work-related diseases and major industrial accidents, as well as improvements in unsatisfactory working conditions. Ergonomic checkpoints has been developed with the objective of offering practical, low-cost solutions to ergonomic problems, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises

The suggestions given here for using Ergonomic

checkpoints are based on training experiences gained

through the use of its first edition,particularly in industrially

developing countries.These experiences relate to training

programmes applying theWork Improvement in Small

Enterprises (WISE) methodology developed by the ILO

and similar participatory action-oriented training methods.

Many members of the working group for this second

edition have taken part in these training activities.As is

described in Annex 1,the link with these participatory

methods was kept in mind during the editing of this manual.

When implementing workplace improvements, it is

useful to utilize the guidance provided by the

checkpoints.The improvement actions indicated by the

checkpoints are based on a number of underlying

ergonomic principles that are readily applicable in real

workplaces, including the following:

— immediate solutions need to be developed with the

active involvement of managers and workers;

— group work is advantageous for planning and

implementing practical improvements;

— the use of available local materials and expertise has

many benefits;

— multifaceted action should ensure that improvements

are sustained over time; and

— continuing action programmes are needed to create

locally adjusted improvements.

The compiled checkpoints are suited to their application

reflecting these underlying principles.These checkpoints

represent simple,low-cost,readily applicable ergonomic

improvements.The easy-to-implement nature of the

improvements favours group work and implementation by

means of local materials and skills.As the checkpoints

cover broad areas,users are guided to take multifaceted

action according to each local situation.The many

illustrations showing widely applicable low-cost ideas can

also help users find locally adjusted solutions.

There are four main ways of using the ergonomic

checkpoints compiled in this book:

1. applying selected checkpoints to the workplace;

2. designing locally adapted, handy checklists;

3. making ready-to-use information sheets; and

4. organizing training workshops for planning and

implementing immediate workplace changes.

In applying ergonomic checkpoints to a particular workplace, it is advisable to select a certain number of checkpoint items considered important for the workplace. Usually, around 20–30 items are suited for initial application of the manual.Copies of the corresponding pages of the selected checkpoint items may be distributed for use in introductory sessions of occupational safety and health,ergonomic interventions or workplace risk management. Based on the selected items, a short checklist may be formed by using the format of the ergonomic checklist contained in the manual.Such a checklist is suitable for initial introductory sessions,especially when the checklist is used together with copies of the selected pages of the manual.If time allows, it is recommended to develop a locally adapted checklist suited to the workplace, as described in the following section. In applying these selected checkpoints,or using them for training purposes, it is useful to organize worksite walk-throughs.The short checklist can greatly help these walk-throughs, as it helps participants take a fresh look at the workplaces visited and find practical improvement points.Remember to ask people to also find existing good points, as these are helpful in subsequent discussions. The results of the workplace visits should be discussed in small groups and then examined in a meeting of all the participants or group representatives.The group work of people using the selected checkpoint items is essential to identifying locally practicable improvements. As indicated in the following sections,it is important to look at multiple aspects of workplace conditions.Therefore it is advisable to select at least a few items from several chapters in the manual,to cover materials storage and handling,tool and machine safety,workstation design, physical environment,welfare facilities and work organization. The brief checklist and the materials based on the selected checkpoint items can help people prioritize immediate actions to be taken.They may choose both short- and long-term priorities.As there are simple,lowcost actions in all these areas,it should be relatively easy to select appropriate checkpoint items by taking into account the particular conditions of the workplaces concerned