U.S. Postal Service employees are experiencing fewer ergonomic injuries as a result of a 2003 partnership between the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), the National Postal Mail Handlers Union (NMHU) and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS). The organizations have released Examples of Good Ergonomics Practices at the U.S. Postal Service which outlines the achievements of the partnership and the steps taken to help prevent ergonomic-related injuries in the workplace.
"By bringing management, unions and employees together to cooperatively identify potential hazards and ergonomic health risks, the Postal Service, through this partnership, is transforming its workplace safety and health ergonomic program into a model for both the public and private sector," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Edwin G. Foulke Jr. "Through identification and resolution of ergonomic risks, the Postal Service has saved $1.8 million in workers’ compensation costs and has had a 38 percent reduction in the musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) recordable rate."
The document illustrates several examples that could have resulted in an ergonomic-related injury and the proactive measures taken to correct the situation before a workplace injury occurred. Several of the protective measures cost less than $100 to implement.
Once the Ergonomic Risk Reduction Process (ERRP) is initiated, an ergonomist uses the 10-step process to identify jobs with high rates of MSDs. Those jobs are then broken down into tasks and steps. The ergonomic risk is then linked to the steps before identifying an implementation plan, obtaining feedback, and determining the cost to implement the solution.
The ERRP is successful because it is a systematic process with clearly defined goals. Using ERRP improves mail flow and leads to improved morale, a better trained workforce, and assigns individual responsibility for job improvements.