Share your ergonomic solutions in the 2014 Innovations Contest

Photo from ESCO Corp., winners of 2013 Ergonomics Innovation Award from WorkSafeBC

Photo from ESCO Corp., winners of 2013 Ergonomics Innovation Award from WorkSafeBC

Have you done anything to lighten the load and reduce workers’ risk of musculoskeletal injury?

If so, here’s a chance for BC workers and employers to share their stories. October is Occupational Ergonomics Month – and WorkSafeBC is sponsoring an Innovations Contest for people who created solutions for workers who lift, push, pull, carry, or move materials at work.

Last year’s winner was ESCO Corporation – a metal foundry in Port Coquitlam, BC. Their team of innovators designed and built a pivot roller device and storage rack to eliminate the need to move and lift a rabble (a tool for mixing molten metal).

Ergonomist Gina Vahlas is one of the contest organizers. I asked her what employers get out of taking part in the contest.

“They get all the benefits of ergonomics: reduced risk and costs, less errors, increased efficiency, quality, and better safety culture and morale in the workplace,” she said.

“They also have a chance to win a $200 team lunch to celebrate their win and recognition in WorkSafe Magazine.”

Musculoskeletal injuries account for about 30 percent of all time-loss injuries to workers in BC. WorkSafeBC defines them as “…an injury or disorder of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerves, blood vessels, or related soft tissue that may be caused or aggravated by work. It includes sprains, strains, and inflammation.”

Ergonomics (MSI) Requirements are covered in sections 4.46 to 4.53 of BC’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulation – so please check it out for a full description of employers’ duties.

One part of the requirement is to “…consult with the joint committee, or the worker health and safety representative, and with certain workers when implementing the MSI requirements.” Gina explains how MSI risks can be solved by this group effort.

“The best solutions often come from a participatory approach that involves including all the people who are involved with the task as well as ergonomists and engineering,” she said.

Contest entries will be accepted from 12:00 am October 1 to 11:59 pm October 31. If your solution isn’t ready by then, you can submit your plan this year, and then next year follow up with details on its implementation.

“If you need help in getting an ergonomic process going at your workplace, consider using an ergonomics consultant,” Gina said. “You can find a directory of consultants on the Association of Canadian Ergonomists website.”

So go ahead and share your stories. I’m very curious to know about them!


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