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HR Magazine, October 2002 - Ergonomics: What’s an Employer To Do?

By Diane Cadrain   10/1/2002

HR Magazine, October 2002

Vol. 47, No. 10

Workplace Safety's Ergonomics Twist

Patrick Tyson, former head of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, says employers can position themselves now to comply with eventual regulation, whether state or federal.

“Do an honest assessment of workplace ergonomic problems,” says Tyson. “If you identify problems, put in an ergonomics program. There’s plenty of information out there.” For example, the web site of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health offers information on many aspects of ergonomics, including a primer for employers on developing effective ergonomics programs.

What about employers who are afraid to act for fear their actions may not comply with a government standard? “That’s not likely,” Tyson says. “If they do anything, they’ll be way ahead of the game. It’s hard to imagine their not being in compliance.”

And consider return on investment, Tyson adds. “Companies that put in programs save money. Meatpacking, poultry processing, automakers—they’ve had ergonomics programs for years. It’s been a good business decision. If you do an honest assessment and put in a basic program, you will save money.”

According to the second annual Workplace Safety Index, a report released last April by Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., 61 percent of business executives polled said their companies received $3 or more for each $1 spent improving workplace safety. 

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