After the assessment: Implementing changes to control musculoskeletal disorder hazards

Revised 2019.01.24

An ergonomics assessment is the beginning of the change process. I am happy to provide more details and guidance. To that end, I provide one month of free telephone support following an assessment. Please ask me to assist, particularly on changes that would be difficult to undo if they don't work or if purchased equipment would not be returnable. I can work with your existing suppliers to identify the equipment you need or recommend alternatives.

Further consultation with your worker(s) or their representatives will be required to assess feasibility and to prioritize the implementation of changes. In addition, don’t forget about support workers (IT personnel, custodians, etc) to ensure their risks are addressed when servicing the space.

There are some “quick fixes” that can be made but there are also changes that will be more difficult to implement and will require more planning.

The following should be taken into consideration when deciding which changes to implement first.
  1. How significant is the hazard that it is addressing? Consider the magnitude of the hazard and frequency and duration of exposure to the hazard.
  2. Is the hazard avoidable if workers were more careful? Caution: Do not rely too much on workers being careful. They will not always be careful, especially when they feel they need to rush.
  3. How much does change cost?
  4. How easy is it to remove the change if it is found to be not effective?
  5. How quickly can it be implemented?
More implementation advice:
  1. Every change will have pros and cons
    • Prototype whenever possible if the change will be difficult to undo once in place.
    • For any new product, buy one for workers to test before buying larger quantities.
  1. Changes that require a change in worker behaviour will be less effective than those that eliminate the need for that undesired behaviour (e.g. telling a worker not to reach will be less effective than eliminating the need to reach).
  2. Workstation changes may not be effective without worker training on the benefits of those changes and how to make the most of the changes.
  3. Some of the changes are mutually exclusive (i.e. implementing one will negate the need for another)
  4. Don't make too many changes at once. If there is no effect or an undesired outcome, it will be difficult to tell which change(s) did not work.
  5. Until appropriate budgets are available, less expensive changes may need to be implemented to provide some relief. More expensive changes are not necessarily better than less expensive changes.
  6. When considering budgets, keep in mind that worker discomfort and injuries have significant costs as well. There is a section on the costs of poor ergonomics and musculoskeletal disorder hazards at:
After implementation:
  1. Review each change carefully to be sure that it is having the desired effect and that no new risks are introduced.
  2. A form is available to assess the success of the changes at the link below.