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Guidance: Creating a safe workplace during Covid-19

At the beginning of 2020 we setup the Ergonomics Workplace Sector Group within The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors. This is co-lead by Kirsty Angerer, The Travelling Ergonomist and Ed Milnes, Guildford Ergonomics.

By setting up this group we have been able to create a brilliant guidance that includes a 7-step process. The real goal of this guidance is to show the importance of ergonomics and Human Factors when planning how to bring staff back to the workplace as safely as possible. We were able to bring together a renowned group of people including ergonomists, psychologists, scientists and academics alongside working with other related Institutes.

I hope you’ll agree that we’ve been able to create something not only that has really important and useful content but a guidance and infographic that looks the part too and engages the audience with our clear and vibrant design.

As part of the guidance we have also included additional areas to consider including mental health and psychological wellbeing, video etiquette and working from home.

Image copyright: Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors

The Home Working and Staying Healthy infographic has been circulating and we’ve had some very positive feedback. If you have not seen it already it can be found on the previous post to this.

Behavioural change we thought was a key area to comment on and what we hope differentiates this guidance from others out there.

Encouraging behavioural change will be essential to help staff adapt to new ways of working and I guess this is where we some difference between the CIEHF guidance compared to others than have been published recently in that alongside putting in physical measures we can start to influence correct behaviours.

Behaviours are driven by underlying motivators or drivers. In human factors, these are known as performance influencing factors (PIFs).

PIFs such as quality of procedures, level of time stress, and effectiveness of training, will vary on a continuum from the best practicable to worst possible i.e staff not following the guidance. When PIFs relevant to a particular situation are optimal then performance will also be optimal and error likelihood will be minimised.

Image copyright: Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors

We need to consider job factors such as clarity of signs and instructions, the design of the environment, products being used. Personal factors to consider are staffs workload, their general morale and physical capabilities of doing tasks. And lastly organisational factors such as clear communication, consequences of failure to follow procedures, and clarity over roles and responsibilities.

Behavioural rules and instructions should be reviewed regularly to make sure they are effective and realistically reflect the work environment and the work that staff are doing.

Businesses and organisations are encouraged to consider the workplace as a whole system so that in mitigating a risk in one part of the work system, unintended consequences are not created in another.

Guidance download:

https://www.ergonomics.org.uk/common/Uploaded%20files/Publications/CIEHF-Creating-a-Safe-Workplace.pdf

Guidance infographic:

https://covid19.ergonomics.org.uk/media/CIEHF-Creating-a-Safe-Workplace-Infographic.html

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