Integrating Ergonomics and Wellness at Honeywell to Enhance Employee Performance
At Honeywell in Colorado Springs, enhancing the productivity of our employees while cutting waste and mitigating injuries is what we are constantly trying to do. Although our primary focus is on the safety of our employees, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our employee’s effectiveness, efficiency, and productivity through a variety of platforms which, when working in unison, can bring about phenomenal results.
Integrating wellness and ergonomic programs into one process did exactly that. It is my belief that by integrating the two disciplines they have become more effective and complimentary. Both have the employee’s best interests in mind as we try to impact the overall wellbeing of our employees, addressing the sedentary nature of some occupations, eliminating unhealthy movements in others, while improving the productivity of the business.
Here at Honeywell, we have developed an effective ergonomics program, impacting processes and procedures throughout the production spectrum. Those positive impacts are felt in increased productivity, decreased worker discomfort, and lower health costs for the business with a very positive ROI (Return on Investment). Ergonomics is an integral part of our Six Sigma process and is one of the keys to our Honeywell Operating System (HOS). It has become, along with our wellness program, an OSHA and Honeywell Best Practice. From 2009 to present we have saved over $2.5M in potential direct and indirect costs through proactive implementation of ergonomics (cost savings based on estimated cost of WMSD from OSHA data). The total cost for being this proactive was $85K.
The process begins by getting the employee comfortable from the first day here with a one on one assessment followed by the employee driven self assessment their workstation (3-4 weeks later) using our online tool (Comfort Zone by Ergoprise), developed to give the employee more hands on control of their work environment. The tool also provides invaluable metrics, allowing us to continuously improve our processes. I can now also reach our employees who are stationed at one of our 11 remote sites around the world without the extra expense of air travel. I can assess workstations through data and submitted pictures and videos, providing corrective actions and shipping the necessary equipment to the employee to install.
The tool also makes my job as the ergonomist easier and more effective by identifying who is most at risk, allowing me to target those employees for more one on one attention. Those employees who are at a lesser risk can reference our library of videos to help them with anything from adjusting their chair to proper mousing and keyboarding techniques or simplyfollow the tips provided based on their input to the survey. Using these tools to validate the process already in place as well as placing the process more in the hands of the individual employee allows more time for expansion of the ergonomics program into other areas such as manual material handling. The combination of one on one assessment, utilizing our onsite ergonomics lab, a similar tool developed by Auburn Engineers (eTools Shop) is being used to assess and mitigate risk in our Manual Material Handling Program and is already paying dividends.
We have also developed an effective wellness program tied to the ergonomics program by focusing of our wellness program on getting more employees up and moving through the use proper stretching, exercise, and the incorporation of sit/stand stations (over 280/700 employees). The sit/stand stations have become very popular with many of the users reporting more energy throughout the day as well as measureable weight loss, improved circulation, and lower blood pressure (measured individually at one of our blood pressure stations within the facility). But sit/stand stations are not the only thing that is impactful on both an ergonomic and wellness level. We also have a unique training room and a full size wellness (fitness) center.
With our new training room here at Honeywell employees can use it to complete company mandated online training at one of three stations. The Cyber Kiosk Room, as it is called here, is equipped with a treadmill station, a recumbent bike station, and an adjustable sit/stand station (see pictures below). The purpose of the room was two-fold. First I wanted to provide a place where employees can get away from their desk to complete their training undisturbed. Second, I wanted to get and keep them moving, not as much as a gym (we will discuss that in a minute), but enough to where they are not sedentary for the 30-60 minutes it takes to click through and complete a slide deck. The results have been outstanding. There has been a marked increase in on-time training completion (15-20%) compared to completion prior to the room’s existence. It has also increased the number of employees who have signed up for our onsite wellness (fitness) center.
The Wellness Center is an 1100sq ft. facility that has state of the art equipment throughout it (see photos below). The room boasts a nice array of cardio equipment, free weights, weight machines, and a lot of other strength and balance equipment (BOSU, TRX, Kettle bells to name a few) to allow the user to either maintain their current wellness level or to improve and attain a higher level.
As the staff trainer (Master Fitness Trainer Certified), I also provide custom exercise plans to allow employees to stay focused on their individual fitness goals. Over 200 of our employees have taken advantage of this. Feedback from the employees has been excellent.
As of this writing, 625 of our current population of 695 employees have signed up to use the room. It is free for anyone who works here and all that is required of the employee is their attendance at a safety briefing where they learn how to use the room safely and the completion of a brief health questionnaire.
We also provide each new hire a proper stretching and lifting card which is discussed at the one on one initial assessment and at the wellness center briefing. Although there is no formal stretching program, by issuing the cards I have found that many of our employees complete the stretches daily and adhere to the proper lifting techniques shown to them. This has been validated by not having an injury related to improper lifting or poor preparation for the last 3 years.
Data here at Honeywell in Colorado Springs also suggests that when you have an effective wellness and ergonomics program in place and working in unison, you have a positive impact not only on the employees’ performance, but on their morale and the company’s bottom line as well.
For instance, our overall performance as a business has increased by a steady 10% annually from 2009-2012 while our work authorization closure rate (Work Authorizations are individual work packages within the overall contract) has paralleled that number. Individual worker performance is reflected in these numbers as well but another telling statistic is the overall rate of decline for days away from work (a steady 5% decrease annually from 2009 to present). Employee satisfaction surveys have trended positively since 2009 when employees were asked how safe they feel and how invested is the company in your wellness and productivity.
The integration of ergonomics and wellness may be unique but I think viable and with a natural linkage to employee health and safety. Each program on its own can have profound benefits to the overall wellbeing of your employees, but together, you have a program that is well-rounded and takes virtually every aspect of employee performance into account, supporting company initiatives and saving costs.
Keith Osborne is an award winning HSE Site Specialist for Honeywell Technology Solutions Incorporated- Colorado Springs (HTSI-COS). He is certified as a CEAS, EPM, MFT, and EFR. Keith is a published author on the subject of ergonomics and is the owner of two Honeywell and OSHA Best Practices (Ergonomics/Wellness). Keith is the winner of HTSIs coveted HSE President’s award for his work in the fields of ergonomics, health and wellness, and emergency response. Keith has two Bachelor’s degrees from NAU in Applied Management and Business Administration. He is also a member of ASSE, HFES, AIHA, and NFPA.