National Standard vs. Corporate-Internal Ergonomics Evaluation - an Industrial Case Study
Paper in proceedings, 2008
In Sweden, industrial corporations are required to actively monitor and improve the working environment for their employees according to the provision AFS 1998:1, a document that offers guidelines for maintaining a healthy physical working environment, chiefly by ensuring healthy working postures. This provision was purposely formulated in a very general, nonspecific manner in order to be relevant for a large variety of industries.At certain industrial corporations, corporate-internal procedures for evaluating and monitoring the ergonomic status of the workplace have been developed, usually in order to take
consideration of the specific conditions of that industrial application. The protocol, method,execution and presentation of the evaluation results may vary. Also, the decision regarding which personnel should carry out the evaluation becomes a poignant question. In this article, which describes a Swedish industrial case study in the automotive sector, a corporate-internal method with a highly specified input protocol was used to evaluate the
ergonomic status of a production line. At the time, the evaluation was carried out by factory personnel with specific training in using the method. Months later, the same factory segment was re-evaluated by two professional ergonomists from an occupational health service, this
time using the AFS 1998:1 provision as a basis.
The article makes an attempt to compare the two methods, finding some similarities and also some interesting differences. However, the main research questions that arise from this work concern the difficulties of choosing the right evaluation method for a large, complex industrial
system; not only do different evaluation methods tell us different things at different levels of detail, but they also require very different competencies from the persons who perform the evaluation.