Humantech Vice President, Josh Kerst, shares a quick video explaining some of the workplace issues companies will be dealing with as the baby boomers age.
by Josh Kerst, CPE
Ben Franklin got it right over two centuries ago when he said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Many of you who know us well here at Humantech may have heard us talk about prevention against ergonomic issues by moving your company up the Ergonomics Maturity Curve™. The curve illustrates the evolutionary process many companies go through as they develop sustainable success with better performance from people, products and processes. The bottom line is that companies that take a more proactive and advanced approach to addressing ergonomic risk become more effective and efficient at delivering products and processes that are ergonomically designed right from the start.
For this reason, I’m excited to announce the launch of Humantech’s latest e-book, Six Ways to Apply Ergonomics in Design, authored by yours truly. I think it’s a great starting point for involving your designers and engineers in the ergonomics process and establishing proper ergonomic design guidelines. Best of all—it’s free! I hope you’ll download it, share it, and please let me know what you think!
Check out this web tool! The Cornell University Ergonomics website has a vast number of ergonomics resources, ranging from the NIOSH Lifting Equation to the Cornell Visibility Calculator. Cornell’s site also includes diverse written materials as well as common assessment tools like the RULA and REBA.
The Visibility Calculator estimates the level of light required to obtain the same visibility for people of various ages as well as tasks that require different visual demands. The base level of visibility is equivalent to a 20-year-old person. All that is required from you is to enter the current light level measured in foot-candles. You’ll be able to obtain the desired light levels for each person in the work area and provide a better work environment.
by Michael Hoonhorst, AEP
The National Center for Human Factors Engineering in Healthcare brings together a diverse and collaborative group from human factors engineers to clinicians in order to improve healthcare quality, efficiency, reliability, and safety. The Center conducts usability tests, heuristic reviews, and other human factors evaluations for medical devices and Health IT applications in all phases of development. The site includes videos, journal articles, and other references pertaining to this topic.
By: Josh Kerst, CPE, CIE
Detroit plays host to the automotive world once again as the 2013 edition of North American International Auto Show shifts into overdrive. I visited this year’s show which helped me understand that this event is much more than an exhibit for potential customers. It is a chance to network with auto industry professionals from over 2,000 companies, witness the latest cars and technologies, evaluate the launch of 42 brand-new vehicles, and check out the annual award winners.
My biggest turnaround award has to go to Chrysler as they finish a third consecutive year of sales increases while winning the Truck of the Year trophy for their impressive Dodge Ram. Italian-owned Fiat purchased the company a few years ago and they have steadily marched forward under the guidance of Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne. When a National Public Radio reporter asked Marchionne about the turnaround and awards he responded that accolades are great but Chrysler is not settling for complacency when it comes to quality.
The CEO specifically pointed to three ingredients that have fostered Chrysler’s recent success.
- Quickly establishing a quality senior leadership team
- Completely revamping all manufacturing processes using “World Class Manufacturing” concepts they admittedly borrowed from Toyota
- Getting ergonomics right by changing the way in which the workforce interfaces with the product and eliminating unnecessary expenditure of physical labor to make things
It’s refreshing to hear a CEO like Marchionne who really gets it and values the capabilities of American workers. Marchionne drove home his emphasis on ergonomics during the NPR interview by saying “One of the things that unfortunately happens in organizations that become dysfunctional is that the very first thing to go is the amount of care and attention that you place on the workplace and the environment within which people work”. Wise words from one heck of a success story that is “Imported from Detroit” and I wonder just how many readers would have thought Chrysler would make such a big turnaround three years ago?
by Josh Kerst, CPE
Heavy metal, small spaces and healthy hands were the order of the day in early November, as Timken celebrated the finals of their second annual Ergo Cup competition. Presenters from four plants converged in Canton, Ohio, to demonstrate their teams’ creations, which were judged on performance in four categories: ergonomic risk reduction; innovation; simplicity; and cost savings.
A panel of five executive judges from inside and outside the company (including myself) listened to an hour of finalist presentations. After a difficult deliberation, the judges selected the Shiloh Bearing Plant in Rutherfordton, N.C., as this year’s winner for the “Timken Tugger” invention. The mechanical lift-assist machine has a boom and hoist that can be adjusted based on job requirements. The Tugger eliminates the need to reach, bend or twist into confined spaces to lift heavy objects.
“I was impressed with the Timken Tugger from the moment I saw it,” said Tim Timken, chairman, who participated in the event. “It clearly demonstrates the Shiloh Plant’s strong commitment to reducing safety risks and developing tools that allow associates to perform their jobs much more efficiently. They are certainly a worthy recipient of this year’s Ergo Cup, as are all the finalists.”
While Shiloh took home the grand prize, the contest drew interest from around the world, and more than 60 ideas were submitted for consideration. The Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) team was challenged to narrow these down to four. This was no easy task, according to Alan Oberster, vice president of EHS.
“It was really exciting to see so many plants engaged in this year’s competition and dedicated to improving the quality of their work environments,” Alan said. “The real winners are our associates from around the world, who are benefiting from all these great ideas and working more safely as a result.”
Along with Shiloh, the other three finalists that presented were:
- Harrison (Canton, Ohio) Steel Plant – magnetic band hoisting apparatus;
- Manchester (Connecticut) Plant – a custom swash plate lapping tool; and
- Mascot (Tennessee) Plant – modified cone core buffer.
In addition to taking home the Timken Ergo Cup trophy for a year, the Shiloh plant will represent Timken at the 2013 Applied Ergonomics Conference in Dallas, where the Tugger will face off in International Ergo Cup Competition against inventions and improvements from top companies around the world.
by Blake McGowan, CPE
A very important study was published in the October 2012 issue of Human Factors titled, “U.S. Truck Driver Anthropometric Study and Multivariate Anthropometric Models for Cab Design.” I am always impressed when leaders from NIOSH, reputable universities, and industry collaborate on projects that result in applied and usable information; this is such a study.
Trucking is one of the most hazardous occupations, including fatal and non-fatal incidence, in the United States. Truckers spend long hours on the road, and the design of the truck cab can have a significant impact on safety and comfort. With the changes in U.S. anthropometrics, especially the changes in body mass index (BMI), there is a need to update the trucker anthropometrics since the previous data was provided in the 1970s and 1980s.
In recent years, major trucking manufacturers have begun a transition from the traditional percentile approach (5th to 95th percentile) to a multivariate accommodation model (MAM) approach to cab design. The MAM approach tries to reduce a large number of measured variables to a smaller number (two or three) of principle components (PC). So, after measuring the anthropometrics (35 different dimensions) on 1,950 truckers (1,779 males and 171 females) across the continental U.S. and across ethnic, gender, and age ranges, what did they find? Principle results include the following:
- Males truck drivers are significantly shorter (12 mm) and heavier (13.5 kg) than the general U.S. population.
- Male truck drivers have greater thigh and waist circumference (90 mm and 13.5 mm, respectively) than the general U.S. population.
- Compared to 30 years ago, male truck drivers are larger in abdominal depth, sitting forearm-to-forearm breadth, hip breadth, sitting waist circumference, and body weight.
These changes in truck driver anthropometrics may reflect the sedentary nature of the trucking occupation and the ongoing obesity epidemic in the U.S.
So how can we apply this information? A set of multivariate anthropometric models, which accommodate 95% of the current truck driver population, has been developed to help with future truck cab design. These models may also be applied when designing vehicle cabs for delivery occupations (local FedEx or UPS deliveries), sales representatives (e.g., traveling sales agents for the pharmaceutical industry), or even field workers. There is a great deal of useful data in this study that every ergonomist should apply to improve safety and comfort within the workforce.
by Josh Kerst, CPE
Over 6,000 attendees have descended this week upon Orlando for the 100th anniversary of the National Safety Council Congress & Expo. There have been excellent keynote addresses from government and industry leaders such as Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, E. Scott Geller as well as safety icons like Captain “Sully” Sullenberger. These talks have been bolstered by over 50 interactive breakout sessions that have presented cutting edge methods to improve safety.
Speaking of cutting edge safety… I came across two innovative safety knife exhibitors that had developed their product with ergonomics in mind. The two designs shown here from Pacific Handy Cutter (blue design) and Slice (green models) illustrate just how much these tools have improved. Ergonomic features include the use of power grips, precision grips, anthropometrically friendly designs that support ambidextrous use. Check back for more reports from this year’s NSC congress and expo
by Ryan Cowart, AEP
Traditionally, employees work in offices or cubicles that are designed to house three primary aspects of the work environment; receiving data, entering data, and communication. Receiving data occurs in varying forms such as reading a book, listening to a webinar, or reading from a computer screen. Data entry includes typing up a document on the visual display screen. Of course, communication is displayed in many ways; talking face-to-face, by phone, through e-mails, text messages, blogging, tweeting, etc. Whatever modes of work we consider, however, the fact is that people move through a series of circular motions while our environments are created based on 90-degree angles.
If you take a look at the elbow and knee, we see their range of motion is along a circular pathway and is not restricted to stop at any 90-degree angle. Although the knee is anatomically limited by the nature of the patella (knee cap), the overarching idea of a circular range of motion is evident. Humans are able to interact with many surface orientations that are not congruent to our own because we have angular adjustability across the x, y, and z planes in every limb of our body. Walls, floors, chairs, desks, and even our pens are designed principally on 90-degree angles. Bottom line, we don’t always fit with our work environment.
Office ergonomics is about fitting the job to the person. Therefore, we need to re-consider our right-angled workstations in order to reduce the risk of ergonomic injuries. When I say injuries, I am discussing musculoskeletal disorders such as Tendinitis, Epicondylitis, Ganglion Cysts, and the infamous Carpel Tunnel Syndrome, to name a few. We reduce the risk of these disorders by implementing adjustability into the office workstation. By providing adjustability, we are designing for the majority of the working population instead of designing for the average. There are a multitude of adjustable office products that are on the market right now and employees, in any environment, can truly benefit from even the slightest alteration. If an employee performs well at work, the company will perform well. Adjustability is your friend, so start implementing today!
by Kevin Perdeaux, CPE
Reading the Q&As from this week’s Ergonomics Assessment Tool Kit Webinar, the question regarding recommended lighting guidelines caught my attention. On a recent visit to The Henry Ford Museum in metro Detroit, I took this photo of the Code of Lighting manual issued by the Westinghouse Lamp Company. Developed in collaboration with The Illuminating Engineering Society, this data is still the principle reference for occupational lighting guidelines. The Code of Lighting manual pictured here is dated March 1922. Talk about data that hasn’t burned out over time! I wonder if they reasoned that one day LEDs would be the new rage in the 21st Century?
Challenge - can anyone share other ergonomic guidelines or research dated earlier than 1922 that we still use today?