How to Use Records Reviews to Identify & Eliminate Ergonomics Hazards

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: September 29th, 2014
Topics: Ergonomics |

record reviews to identify and eliminate ergonomic hazards

The Who, When, Which, and What of Record Reviews

To root out ergonomic injuries you must be proactive. The first step is to do a record review and create a “snapshot” of worker injuries so you can analyze causes and identify trends. Here’s how to do an effective records review.

Click here for an Ergonomics Record Review Form

Who Should Do an Ergonomics Record Review?

Use a team approach. Make the person in charge of safety at the site who’s most familiar with the records your team leader. Include workers on the team. Consider bringing in an outside ergonomics consultant to guide team efforts, especially at the beginning stages.

When Should You Do an Ergonomics Record Review?

Do a review right away if you’ve never done one, and at least once a year thereafter. More frequent reviews may be necessary if you experience a spike in the number of ergonomic injuries to workers. You should also do a review whenever you make significant operational changes, move locations and/or begin implementing different equipment or procedures.

Which Records Should You Review?

Review all records from the previous year that might contain data on ergonomically-related injuries, including:

  • OSHA injury logs and summaries;
  • Accident reports including results of internal investigations;
  • Workers’ compensation claims;
  • Equipment maintenance records;
  • Safety committee minutes and reports;
  • Workplace audit results; and
  • Safety-related complaints by workers and others.

What Should You Look For?

The team should go over the records with an eye to spotting patterns or trends in ergonomic injuries, such as:

  • Recurrence of particular kinds of injuries;
  • High incidence of injuries to workers who perform similar functions or use the same equipment; and
  • High incidence of injuries to workers in particular locations or departments.

What Should You Do With Your Findings?

It’s crucial to document your findings in a clear and organized fashion to facilitate analysis and corrective action. That’s why ergonomics experts and safety directors familiar in the ways of ergonomic record reviews recommend creating a special form that team members can use to record their findings.

How to Create a Form

There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all form. Still, like the Model Form above yours should list:

Reviewers’ ID: The team leader and individual team members who did the review should list their names, phone numbers and department so you can follow up directly with them if you have any questions or concerns about the findings.

Review Date: This is critical information that enables you to verify the accuracy of the data reviewed.

Records’ ID: This should include the name, position and department of the injured worker or the record number if the record has to be kept confidential. The person filling out the form should also list the type of record reviewed, e.g., workers’ comp claim, and date of review.

Injury Information: List the date and type of injury (including body part affected) as well as what part of the site the injury occurred in, the activity the injured worker was engaging in and the kind of device, equipment or workstation she was using.

Identifying & Correcting Ergonomic Problems

Now comes the hard part: translating the data into corrective action. Here’s how to analyze the data and decide on corrective action.

Click here for an Ergonomics Record Review Summary & Corrective Actions form.

3 Ways a Form Helps

The form is simply a summary of the data from the records review. When you finish the records review, have somebody from the review team complete the summary form. Fill out a summary form for each type of ergonomically-related injury suffered by your workers. Using this form will do 3 things to help you solve ergonomics problems:

1. Organize Injury Data

Records reviews yield a vast wealth of data on ergonomics injuries. But that data can be unwieldy, voluminous and hard to organize. The form helps you get a handle on the data by sorting it out according to injury type. This facilitates analysis and the identification of causes of injury.

2. Determine Appropriate Corrective Action

Once you identify what’s causing an injury, you can decide what to do to correct the problem. Since causes and solutions for particular injuries may vary across different parts of your workplace or operations, you need to get input from all parties affected. The Model Form is an ideal tool for capturing and organizing this input.

3. Establish Priorities

The summary form lays out the key information about injury types. This enables you to compare injury types side-by-side, determine which problems are the most severe and establish priorities for corrective action.

How to Create and Use a Form

Make sure a form is completed for each ergonomic injury type and lists for that particular injury type:

Number of Occurrences: It’s crucial to know how many instances of each ergonomic injury types you’ve experienced before taking corrective action.

Departments/Operations Affected: You need to determine where in the workplace different injuries are occurring so you can invest corrective resources most effectively. For example, you might decide to tackle injuries occurring in a vital area of the workplace first even though other types of injuries are happening more often in less key areas of operations.

Job Titles of Affected Workers: You should have a record of which job titles are suffering which kinds of injuries so you can focus your training efforts.

Equipment Involved: List the device, equipment or workstation, if any, involved in each type of injury. This enables you to identify what may be causing problems and needs to be removed or replaced.

Recommended Action: List clear and specific action recommended to correct the problem. Of course, this may have to be a collective decision involving the safety committee, risk manager, affected workers, consultants and others.

Priority Status of Corrective Actions: The last step is prioritizing corrective actions recommended for each type of injury. Explain your decisions. Priority level will be determined by factors such as:

  • Frequency of injury;
  • Seriousness of injury;
  • Number of workers at risk;
  • Types of workers or operations at risk; and
  • Ease of correction.