To the man in the street, ergonomics is something to do with a car’s radio buttons and the layout of the dashboard, right? Not something we need to concern ourselves with until we’re in the market for a new car. The Ergonomics Regulations (ERR) gazetted in December 2019 changes all that, and although they came in low-key and were totally over-shadowed by the introduction of the Disaster Management Act 3 months later, they are nonetheless just as mandatory as the Provisions of the DMA itself. The new regulations bring ergonomics considerations into our workplaces, homes and our daily lives.

Gazetted – The new Ergonomics Regulations

AM I AFFECTED BY ERGONOMICS REGULATIONS?
The answer is YES – whether you’re an employer, employee or the man-in-the-street. Here’s why – section 2 of the Regulations states that “2. These Regulations will apply to–
(a) any employer or self-employed person who carries out work at a workplace, which may expose any person to ergonomic risks in that workplace”

Section 6 of the regulations goes on to prescribe that “Ergonomic risk assessment 6.
(1) (a) An employer must, before the commencement of any work that may expose employees to ergonomic risks, have an ergonomic risk assessment performed by a competent person.”
A competent person is one certified in an ergonomics qualification by an accredited service provider, and one is not deemed competent by virtue of being the employer’s regular Risk Assessor. So what this means, is that employers are obliged to conduct the RA and implement an ergonomics program, while on the other side of the coin employees have a right to demand intervention if there is no Ergonomics Risk Assessment addressing their specific tasks at their workplace.

Simple training and changes in processes can achieve desired results

I AM AN EMPLOYER – WHAT’S MY NEXT STEP?
If you’re an employer, you’ll want to pre-empt any disgruntled employees demanding action. It would be prudent to say, at this point, that ergonomics programs do not need to cost an arm and a leg – in fact, the program looks at saving arms and legs. But on a more serious note, there are many very basic low-cost interventions, the cost of which is more than offset by improved productivity and morale.
Simple training and changes in processes can achieve desired results

Contact a reputable OHS company who has a certified ergonomics risk assessor to keep your OHS compliance in the green.
Follow this series for more articles related to the new regulations.