We’ve probably all had that employee who wants what someone else has….just because. When it comes to ergonomics, this question often comes up:
“Am I opening a can of worms by doing ergonomics for one employee? Won’t all the other employees want the same thing?”
I am going to share something that just happened last week – that beautifully demonstrates how to handle this.
I was at a client’s office seeing people for their ergonomic evaluations when I came to a young man who seemed to think that his ergonomic evaluation was a shopping trip!
As I was showing him how to adjust his chair and educate him on proper postures, he started asking me if he could “get what that guy over there has”.
This 6’3” young man was referring to a footrest. I gently explained that a footrest is used for a person whose feet can’t touch the floor and that he certainly didn’t appear to have this problem. He quickly nodded in agreement and we went on.
I made my recommendations for him and moved on to the next person. A few hours later, I was in the middle of another evaluation, issuing a back rest for a very petite young woman. As I am showing her how to use it, I hear “Hey, I didn’t know we could get one of those! Why didn’t you tell me?”. Him again!
I showed him that she needed this back rest because there was a gap between her body and the chair when she was sitting properly. He was quick to point out that he didn’t like to sit that way, and preferred to lean back. Exactly.
He was still hanging around, so I told him that he had “Ergo Envy”, which got a chuckle out of his buddies (and even him). I reminded him that he was really lucky to have such a good fit in his chair that he didn’t need to add anything. This seemed to work and we all got back to business.
As I was thinking about it later, I thought, this is a perfect story to share and demonstrate exactly how to control “Ergo Envy”.
Sometimes, people don’t know that ergonomic recommendations are made based on very objective information.
Professional ergonomic evaluators do a full risk assessment, make corrections and then determine what else may be needed to address the risk. We “prescribe” settings, arrangements, postures, and equipment based on risk factors we see as well as what kinds of symptoms, medical problems and other history a person shares with us.
Once an employee knows that there is an objective method of evaluating the workstation, they are usually satisfied. Even if they aren’t – we simply tell them that they don’t really show a need for the product and we can’t issue it.
So, are you going to open a can of worms by providing ergonomics for one employee?
Not if you have an objective and clear method of making recommendations. Just like medication, we don’t all need the same thing. We will talk more about this in upcoming issues and keep giving you tools to control risk while also controlling cost.
Once you know that there is a way to control “Ergo Envy”, the next step is to decide what your organization is able to offer employees when it is really needed. It is a good idea to have a pre-approved ergonomic equipment list, which helps control cost. What company doesn’t want to control cost? The list should include some of the basic equipment for example:
- Wrist rests
- Monitor risers
When you know how to control “ergo envy”, and you have identified what your organization is able to offer the employees, you are starting to gain control!