Ergonomics done right.®
June 30th, 2011

Q&A From Fad vs. Fact Webinar

Thanks to those of you who attended yesterday’s Fad vs. Fact webinar. We hope you found it informative. We certainly enjoyed sharing the information with you. As promised, below are our responses to your questions and comments. We also appreciate your suggestions for future webinars and invite you to comment below with more ideas.

Q: ­Can someone address the sit/stand craze in the workplace?  Is standing necessary for health?­
A: We are big fans of standing in the workplace.  As we discussed in the webinar, standing promotes circulation, makes it easier to maintain neutral spine posture, and increases caloric expenditure.  To start with, we recommend alternating between standing and sitting, as many people find it difficult to initially stand for 6-8 hours straight.

Q: Is leg muscle movement the only way blood is returned to the heart from the lower extremity?
A: One of our participants astutely noted that while the leg muscles do provide assistance with returning venous blood to the heart, it is not the only way that venous blood returns to the heart – there is pressure on the venous side of the system.

Q: ­For anti-fatigue matting, are there test methods to verify or confirm the manufacturer’s claims for data such as density, compression, etc.?­
A:  Such tests are traditionally performed by in academic or advanced research laboratories.  Unfortunately, we have do not have the facilities to conduct such a test.

Q: ­What particular brand of anti-fatigue mat would you recommend for usage?­
A:  It is really difficult to make one sweeping recommendation.  It depends on the specific environment & application (e.g. cleanroom required?), location (does the custodial staff have to lift and clean under it?), as well as your budget!  Some vendors that we have had success with are Ergoadvantage and ErgoMat. Another source that distributes many different brands is AliMed.

Q: ­What are your thoughts on stretching in an office work environment to break up repetition of sitting at a desk on computer for 8+ hr/day?­
A:  Of course, anything that breaks up prolonged sitting is good.  However, our position on workplace stretching is that it, by itself, has no significant impact on decreasing work-related musculo-skeletal disorders. Without modifying the equipment or task characteristics, the MSD risk level remains the same.

Q: ­Is it suggested that provision be made for raising one leg – step for standing workstations?
A: Guidelines for foot rails at standing workstations can be found in Humantech’s Handbook of Ergonomic Design Guidelines.  Generally a good adjustable footrest or a fixed horizontal bar at 6 inches above the standing surface, but don’t forget foot/leg clearance.

Q: ­Donald Wasserman – one of the leaders in occupational vibration has stated that there is little or no benefit from anti-vibration gloves.  Internal dampening of the tool is the really the most effective method of reducing the transmission of vibration.­
A:  Suffice it to say, there is a lot of different research out there.  It should go without saying that internal dampening is the most effective way to engineer out the ergonomic risk. However, the focus of this webinar was on specific commercial products and their effects.  We found that the balance of research suggested some benefit from glove use, provided the frequency and amplitude of vibration was matched to the composition of the glove.

Q: How can you measure vibration on a hand tool?
A: Using an Accelerometer.  There are several key methods to applying and understanding the outputs of these devices.  Make sure you know what you are doing and practice good scientific protocol when collecting data.