Health and safety professionals tend to complete a series of risk assessments to identify workplace hazards. Depending upon the hazards found, additional assessments may be required – display screen equipment and manual handling are two good examples.

We then look at what controls we can implement to reduce the risk. The control measures we employ will be comprehensive but all are reliant upon two common factors – training and communication. Our colleagues must now understand what they have to do to reduce the risk to themselves and anyone else affected by their work.

At this stage a choice is generally made between classroom and/or online training. Whilst there is nothing wrong with either method, why do people quickly disengage when receiving training that is designed to make their life better?

It might be the trainer but it’s more often the training content. If people have heard and seen it all before, they just don’t see the relevance for them. For example, we all know that back problems increase with static postures and mobile technologies mean that we work longer and at any location we choose. Yawn, say some.

So how do we make ergonomic training stimulating, concise and relevant to all these working environments? Answer: Training must be personal to the individual.

The big picture starts a simple exercise that I get people to do on all of my training sessions. It involves the following exercise.

  1. They start by writing down how long their working day is.
  2. Then they identify the tasks they do during the day, both work and non-work related activities are included.
  3. I then ask them to determine if the task is dynamic or sedentary.
  4. We then look at the transition between each task, again is it a dynamic or sedentary transition?
  5. Each participant lists out how long each task and transition takes.

It’s amazing; during the exercise you can almost see the ‘penny drop’ with each participant. They not only realise how long they work, but also now sedentary we now are.

At this point I find that people are now more likely to engage with the training as they clearly understand the scale of the problem as well as the consequences if they don’t change. It’s almost as if they want to take ownership, they start to embrace the challenge of being more active.

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