As we all know, safety (unfortunately) doesn’t just happen.While humans are advanced of monkeys and can be trained and coached, they are not robots. They do make mistakes and sometimes do things that are unsafe, even if they know they are unsafe.
Because of that relative unpredictability, safety always has to be managed. To help make that management a little less chaotic (a notch below herding cats, anyway), there are several safety-management systems in place within safety standards that present best-practices for working around unpredictable human behavior to mitigate risks and hazards that could put workers in danger of suffering an illeness or injury while on the job.
One of the great new standards in safety is actually a management system, and it’s often referred to as ISO 45001, which is officially Standard for Occupational and Health Safety Management Systems. ISO 45001 is a very new standard that was not officially on the books when 2017 started, being listed as a draft proposal, but it’s written to be a model for virtually any safety management program, even one having to do with ergonomics.
ISO 45001 and ergonomics can go hand-in-hand, according to an article published in a recent issue of Professional Safety magazine. The authors – Walter Rostykus, Winnie Ip and Jennifer Ann Dustin – made the case about the value of ergonomics in the workplace and wrote a piece designed to show how ISO 45001 can be used to establish a quality ergonomics management program that can greatly reduce musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and keep workers safe.
We took an initial look at ergonomics in the first post of this series, and here we’ll delve a little bit into the draft ISO 45001 standard and how it is framed. Next we’ll go into the various parts that would make up an ergonomic management system according to using ISO 45001.
ISO 45001 is an international safety management system standard that is an evolution from previous standards in place since the 1990s. This latest standard builds upon ISO 14001, an environmental systems approach, and ANSI Z10 as well. ISO 45001 provides the flexibility to have an ergonomic management system, either as a standalone system or as part of a broader safety management process in your workplace.
Based on an initial assessment of the ISO 45001 standard, it seems to align much with what is called the Shewhart cycle, which refers to the model for continuous improvement (known as plan-do-check-act). This model seems to be the one that would work best in ergonomics management, as the Shewhart cycle is a process rather than a program.
And it is believed by most information and anecdotal experience that a rprocess for ergonomics management is preferable to a ergonomics program that seems to only revolve around the ergonomic equipment and its proper use. Several companies have taken their equipment and put it into a process that paid off for them (check out Humantech’s study from 2011).
Next, we’ll answer the pressing question: What does ergonomic process management look like based on ISO 45001? As usual, stay tuned.