Lean and Ergonomics: A Good Match

In case you missed it (and I almost did), October was National Ergonomics Month.

This designation was created six years ago by something called the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) with the stated purpose of focusing “on promoting human factors/ergonomics to corporate executives, students, and the general public by providing information and services to the community.”

Wikipedia defines ergonomics as “the science of designing the job, equipment, and workplace to fit the worker.” I don’t know whether that is a universally accepted definition, but I like it. It is concise and seems to clearly express what ergonomics is all about.

And while my knowledge of ergonomics is limited, I have long believed that ergonomics and lean fit well together. If you regard your workers as an asset, and you have respect for them as people – both lean attitudes – then designing the job, equipment and workplace to fit them makes perfect sense.

Ergonomic improvements can also improve productivity, by making it easier for workers to do their jobs.

Other people have expressed this in much greater depth. If you’d like more information, do a Google search for “ergonomics and lean.” I did, and came up with quite a few hits.

We don’t publish any books specifically about ergonomics, but some of our titles might be of interest, such as our books about Training Within Industry.

Have any of you gained benefits from making ergonomic improvements part of your lean initiatives? Please share your experience below.


Anonymous said...

A book titled Lean Safety, which is due to be released on Deecmber 7, 2009 (Productivity Press) makes the connection between safety improvment and lean management.

Heather Ritz Crawford said...

I've been working in ergonomic consulting for years now, and most all of our recent clients are linking ergonomics with their continuous improvement departments instead of the traditional health and safety. This helps us take a more proactive approach towards ergonomics, instead of reacting to the injuries.

With that, we also use reductions in wasted motion and non-value added time to cost justify improvements. On our website (link below), there is a list of 8 companies we've worked with that have seen productivity gains from ergonomic initiatives.