Achieving success in ergonomics and safety programs is increasingly dependent on the ability to use team processes. Safety professionals must have the skills to help develop and guide these work teams to focus on safety issues. This presentation will review a process for using a crossfunctional work team to achieve success in ergonomics and safety.

The elements for a team driven ergonomics and safety process will be discussed include:

  • Establish the structure for the Team within the organization.

  • Provide the management support and direction to foster team success.

  • Generate employee involvement and leadership.

  • Train the team on group processes and hazard analysis.

  • Define processes for Team to assess and reduce risk.

Team Structure and Formation

Basic formation of the team should include cross-functional membership of employees, operations management and supporting functions such as maintenance and engineering. Selection of team members is usually done through a combination of management nominating or selecting some members and soliciting volunteers for other members. Periodic rotation of membership can help to sustain enthusiasm and action over time. Provide team members clear expectations for their involvement. Clearly define the role for the team within the organization. Decide if the team scope will be limited to evaluating risk and advising management or will have the team have more broad responsibility for decisions on implementing changes.

Effective ergonomics and safety programs in an organization must have effective leadership and this must come from both the management level and the worker level and this is true for team process also. Leadership will need to come from multiple levels and include:

  • Senior Management -Empower the team; provide direction, time, resources and decisions.

  • Team Leader - Selection of the team leader is a key element for ensuring success. The person will need to be skilled in group processes including facilitating the meetings, guiding the activities, and encouraging active involvement of all members.

  • Management Sponsor for the team -This person is available to the team and the team leader to help monitor the progress of the team and help to adjust the direction, support, or membership as needed when obstacles emerge.

  • Team members - Leadership must also come from within the team. Selection of members must include consideration for active participation as well as knowledge of operations.

  • Specialized expertise - may be needed for specific equipment, design, or technical issues of ergonomics and human resources expertise beyond the knowledge of core team members.

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