Managing the Regulatory Complexities of a Global Ergonomics Program

Nov 7, 2023 12:15 PM ET
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Ergonomics is the science of how we interact in our workspaces. Even though it impacts every organization from office workers to manufacturing, it is rarely the first topic that comes to mind when considering the jurisdictional nuances involved with managing and implementing a corporate program. However, multinational organizations must navigate a variety of ergonomic standards, which could range from non-existent legislation, generic, or specific technical regulations depending on the country.

This variety in ergonomic standards may cause an organization to wonder if an ergonomic risk assessment conducted at an office in one jurisdiction will satisfy the regulatory requirements in another location. Organizations may also wonder whether regionally supplied equipment in one location meets regulatory specifications for all areas in which it is deployed. For home or teleworkers, where does the employer’s obligation end and the employee’s own responsibility begin and what must be provisioned?

When evaluating regulations for your operations, you may find that templates, processes, and procedures in one location simply do not satisfy the requirements of another.

Here are just a few high-level examples of varying global ergonomic requirements:

  • Argentina’s Resolution 1552/12 requires an organization to provide an ergonomic chair, mouse, and a Manual of Good Practices on Health and Safety in Teleworking (a jurisdiction further complicated by Argentina’s import restrictions).
  • Ireland’s display screen equipment (DSE) assessment requirements per Regulations 72-73 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007.
  • Poland’s various requirements for equipment that meets certain defined characteristics and specific requirements for ergonomic risk assessment.

The first step to managing a global ergonomic program is to conduct a gap assessment to determine your baseline. To begin a gap assessment of your regulatory compliance to global ergonomics standards, start by evaluating requirements against your global or local program.

  • Identify where you have jurisdictional requirements (or exacting specifications that you must meet) on items such as:
  • eye examinations for visual display unit users,
  • requirements to conduct ergonomic evaluations at a certain cadence, and/or
  • provide equipment that meets specified standards.
  • If your jurisdiction has non-descript (or general) requirements to provide a work environment free from recognized ergonomic hazards, these requirements can generally be satisfied by pre-existing programs.
  • Where you do have specific legislative requirements or technical specifications, you could evaluate them on a case-by-case basis to assess the merits of embedding the requirements into your larger program versus only enacting them locally or regionally. Either solution may be appropriate for your organization depending on several factors such as ease of implementation, conflict with regulatory requirements elsewhere, and cost implications. Furthermore, in some instances, you may choose to take a risk-based approach based on an evaluation of potential harm, liability, and the enforcement environment(s) in which you are operating.
  • Finally, revise your ergonomics program accordingly based on the above evaluations, being sure to clearly specify where execution/implementation will vary locally or by referencing local procedures.

Managing a global ergonomics program may seem daunting or complicated at first, but by breaking down the requirements by geography and determining your company’s needs and priorities, you can develop a cohesive, efficient program to help promote the health and safety of workers.

Looking for help with your ergonomic program? Reach out to Antea Group’s ergonomic experts today!

About Antea Group

Antea®Group is an environment, health, safety, and sustainability consulting firm. By combining strategic thinking with technical expertise, we do more than effectively solve client challenges; we deliver sustainable results for a better future. We work in partnership with and advise many of the world’s most sustainable companies to address ESG-business challenges in a way that fits their pace and unique objectives. Our consultants equip organizations to better understand threats, capture opportunities and find their position of strength. Lastly, we maintain a global perspective on ESG issues through not only our work with multinational clients, but also through our sister organizations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America and as a founding member of the Inogen Alliance. Learn more at