Hank Austin

About Hank Austin, CSP, MS

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So far Hank Austin, CSP, MS has created 25 blog entries.

Is Your Wrist Hurting From Your Mouse?

This is the first in a series of articles/videos on mousing and input devices. The purpose is to illustrate the many different issues and approaches in order to start discussions on them. As with all things in ergonomics, there are many different components including desk heights, chair capabilities, type and size of devices, work being accomplished, anthropometrics (different sizes of people and their body parts) software used, ergonomics philosophies and other variables. Subsequent articles will dive into different types of mice and input devices.

Th situation can dictate the tool and how it is used. Some devices work well in some situations and not so well in others as well as for certain discomfort issues. Specific situations may require that a device be used in a different way.

Time and resources can be a stumbling block when working with a large number of employees so is it efficient and worth the time to teach all employees how to use a device from an ergonomics point of view? Or do non-symptomatic employees just ignore the training and do what they do? Then, when the employee begins to experience discomfort are they more apt to be open to training? There are a lot of questions and situations. What do you think?  Above is a short video clip on a few aspects of basic mousing to get you thinking.

Hank Austin, CSP, MS
Ergo Squad


Ergonomics News – Are You Using Science Or Hunch For Employee Performance Evaluation?

By Rick Wertheimer, ErgoSquad President

People or workforce analytics involves using digital tools and data to measure, report, and understand employee performance. Previous efforts to make decisions about an employee base have been steeped in the idea of a “gut feeling.” It is easier to make better decisions with the advent of data analytics.

The need to improve the quality of talent is being driven, in part, by a tight labor market. What companies have learned by employing better customer experience is now being used to drive better employee experience. Afterall, employees are really the first customers of a company.

The word, ergonomics, is derived from two Greek words: ergon, meaning work, and nomoi, meaning natural laws. Combined together, they create a word that means the science of work and a person’s relationship to that work. More specifically, ergonomics is the science of designing the job to fit the worker, rather than physically forcing the worker’s body to fit the job.

Adapting tasks, tools, and equipment to better fit the worker can help reduce physical stress on a worker’s body and eliminate many potentially serious, disabling work related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) which will lead to greater productive and reduce the cost of health and worker’s comp claims. An ergonomic assessment fosters the identification of the environmental factors creating a performance gap and the potential for MSDs and the correctable conditions required to reduce or eliminate the gap and health risk.

People analytics involves the collection of data from many different worker disciplines. The simple premise of ergonomics makes it a natural discipline to include in the analysis of worker performance. Including the data collected through ergonomic assessments and identified corrective measures in workforce analytics will result in a richer dataset, better decision making and ultimately worker experience and productivity.

Are you using Ergonomic in your workplace? Do you think Ergonomics analysis will help you make better decisions?

Rick Wertheimer is President of ErgoSquad. Find out more about Rick here

2018-09-17T14:39:34+00:00Ergonomic Benefits|

Ergonomics And Productivity – Some Tips To Use Ergonomic Thought

How does ergonomics improve productivity?

The presence of ergonomic risk factors — awkward postures, excessive force, and high task repetition — makes a job more frustrating and difficult to perform. This causes a variety of problems including losses in productivity. And yes, it can be counted and quantified

The ergonomics improvement process reduces risk factors and improves the interaction between the work and the worker. Done well, this process removes barriers to productivity and makes job tasks easier and faster to accomplish.

Improve productivity by reducing awkward postures

Working in an awkward posture is not an efficient way to work. The ergonomics process encourages work to be done in the “comfort zone”, causing less fatigue and helping you work faster and more accurately.

Improve productivity by reducing high force requirements

High force requirements cause unnecessary exertion that slows work down. Using mechanical assists, counter balance systems, adjustable height lift tables and workstations, powered equipment and ergonomic tools will reduce work effort and muscle exertions.

Improve productivity by reducing highly repetitive tasks

High task repetition, especially when combined with other risks factors such high force and/or awkward postures, increases fatigue and slows the work process down. Excessive or unnecessary motions should be reduced if at all possible. In situations where this is not possible, it is important to eliminate excessive force requirements and awkward postures.

Ergonomics Article – Ergonomics, Productivity And Performance

A lot of attention has been given to engaging the best talent to achieve this however, without a program to optimize the performance of all human resources, an organization cannot expect to realize the desired return on those investments.

While it would not be unreasonable to assume an average office worker performance gap in excess of 25%, even a 5% productivity improvement would represent several billion dollars in cost savings annually for employers. For example: An organization has 1,000 office workers and an employee attrition rate of only 9% annually. Even at a very conservative annual cost of $80,000 per employee, the employer would save $7,200,000 per year if they did not replace the 90 employees lost through attrition the first year.

First the premise must be accepted that there are correctable conditions in every organization which contribute to the performance gap. Secondly the factors creating the performance gap and the extent to which they are contributing to the gap must be considered. The three primary contributing factors to a “performance gap” are:

Ergonomics: The gap caused by work environment conditions preventing workers from performing their duties to the best of their abilities.

Proficiency: The gap between current worker capabilities and potential.

Technology: The gap between currently employed technologies (hardware and software) and available technologies which could improve performance.

Can Ergonomic services really help with proficiency? Of course. When employees are comfortable, there are many benefits, not the least which is productivity. Listen to the Ergonomics Podcast on this issue.

2018-09-12T14:17:25+00:00Ergonomic Benefits|

Ergonomics Article – When Do You Survey Your Employees On Ergonomics?

By Ann Hall, Staff Ergonomist

So, what are the best practices?

First, why do companies survey?

A well-executed survey collects data on how employees work and gives personalized feedback and training based on the employee responses. The information collected should help the company identify the workers who are experiencing discomfort and those showing significant risk factors for ­injury.

Good data lets them find the people with the greatest need, the soonest and focus on getting their issues resolved. Remember, without surveys, the person at the most risk or even discomfort might not ever let the company know there is a potential problem until it is too late. Ultimately, survey data should help companies get to employees BEFORE injury occurs.

It should also cut down on non-essential ergonomic visits and small equipment purchases by helping a large percentage of employees self-correct. Maybe they don’t need that footrest after all, perhaps they just needed to know how to correctly adjust the height of their chair.

Why many large companies use survey software, over the pen and paper model, besides the streamlining of processes and compliance documentation, is the real-time auto calculation of metrics. This means administrators are able to get a high level picture of the ergonomic program metrics at any time. These metrics help establish baselines, track program success, identify trends, and prioritize and plan resources.

Obviously, there are more reasons people survey, but this is the most common and basic: identify discomfort and/or risk, training and data.

Next, how often?

When you have answered the above, you can start to decide how often you need to survey to support what you wish to get out of the process. How often does the survey process need to happen to meet the goal?

For some organizations, this is a once a year survey for all employees. For other organizations, high risk and high employee turnover areas such as a call centers may have a more frequent survey. Some organizations, choose to do surveys in batches every month or quarter, verses all at once with all employees being surveyed at least every 18 months. The thought about longer duration between surveys is that there would be a greater chance of employee survey fatigue, thus more engagement in the survey.

After your general plan of execution on why, who and how often has been outlined. Consider the following best practices that we seem to see the most to compliment your plan:

An employee should take a survey when they have had a change in workstation or equipment.
New employees should take a survey within the first month of employment. If the company is doing the survey primarily for training, then that may be the first week. If the company is doing the survey for identifying discomfort and self-correction, then perhaps that happens at week 3 or 4 when the employee has had more time to be acclimated to their workstation setup.
An employee should take a survey when they have reported discomfort or concerns about their setup.
An employee should take a survey when they have requested a change in equipment and setup.
An employee should take a survey before an ergonomic evaluation if one has not already been done.
An employee should take a survey three to four weeks after they have had an ergonomic evaluation to see if they have made improvements and potential problems have been resolved.
Survey frequency may be increased in an area if the data trends see a spike in injury, discomfort or risk. This is helpful to closely monitor resolution action plans – is our plan successful in reversing trends?

Listen to an Ergonomics Podcast