Ergonomics done right.®
October 25th, 2012

Q&A from the Flexible Workforce Webinar

By Christy Lotz, CPE

Thank you to those of you who attended our most recent webinar on Ergonomics for a Flexible Workforce. Here are some of the questions we didn’t have time to answer and our responses.

Q: ­How might you address a “mobile” worker? One who is in the office but does not have dedicated workspace?­

A: During the webinar we referred to that type of environment as an integrated workplace.  This means that there is not a dedicated workstation for each employee, but rather employees select a generic workstation when in the office.  I have seen this happening more often lately.  One company in particular has done it really well. They set up completely adjustable workstations (height-adjustable chairs and workstations, monitor arms, docking stations etc.). Employees plug their laptop into the docking station and work with the provided keyboard, mouse, and monitor.  In advance of rolling this out, each employee was trained on how to make proper adjustments and was provided a card with their own “setup numbers” on it, so they knew how to setup their workstation.

Q: ­We have law enforcement who work in vehicles all day with so much equipment located around them that they need to access.  How do you deal with ergonomic issues when you are VERY limited on what we can do?­

A: When discussing fleet vehicles, whether for a sales fleet or a law enforcement fleet there are a couple of things to consider: 1) Manual Material Handling (retrieving materials from the trunk and lifting/lowering/pushing/pulling/carrying) and 2) “Workstation” setup.

For material handling, provide improved access for material handling between 33 and 38″ above the standing surface.  The cargo deck should be flush with the loading sill to prevent the need to lift and clear products. Provide equipment such as collapsible carts for transporting materials.

For work inside the vehicle, attempt to get out of the vehicle whenever possible to do work (stand outside of the vehicle when reading documents, take a walk etc.). Provide adjustable arms for laptops. Consider voice recognition software to eliminate typing/mousing to enter data.

We discussed in the webinar some ideal standards for choosing fleet vehicles and will provide all attendees with the checklist.

Q: ­where can I go to get vehicle anthropometrics­?

A: The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE International) maintains a series of recommended practices and standards for vehicle design (Example: J4004 Seating Reference Point and Seat Track Length). However, there are a number of locations where you can also determine specific anthropometric information for various percentiles including:

ANSUR – Online Calculator , Technical Report

NHANES – Online Calculator

CDC Health Statistics – Resources

Q: ­Any thoughts on situations where companies  offer BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) to work?­

A: To be honest I have not heard of this before.  To me, this is the equivalent of no standard work in industry.  Without standard work, efficiency decreases, and  errors in quality increase.  If people are given free rein to use their own equipment, it becomes very difficult to maintain security from an IT perspective and difficult to create expectations from a safety perspective.

Poll #1 Results:

What does your workspace look like?

  1. Standard Office or Cubicle – 52%
  2. Home Office –  9%
  3. Transient (car, hotel, plane) – 1%
  4. Integrated Workplace – 1%
  5. Combination of the Above – 27%

Poll#2 Results:

Why do companies support working from home?

  1. Productivity – 33%
  2. Environmental (energy consumption) – 22%
  3. Attracting/Retaining Employes – 62%
  4. Quality of Life – 38%
  5. Reduced Office Space – 52%