The final rules changes for OSHA’s Walking and Working Surfaces/Personal Fall Protection System Rules have been put into place. This OSHA FAQ provides some quick answers to changes in the final publication.
The Friday Five is a set of five links that I have come across this week that pertain to ergonomics, occupational health, safety, human performance, or human factors. For whatever reason, I found them interesting, but they are provided with minimal or no commentary and are not meant to be endorsement for a given product.
This article by NHL defenseman Bryce Salvador discusses the changes in both behaviors and attitudes that he had to make following a concussion after being hit in the head with a puck at 90 miles per hour.
Steven Dubner of Freakonomics and Freakonomics radio did a two episode series on the economics of sleep. It covers a lot of interesting areas that are impacted by the amount and quality of sleep. While it’s broad in scope, it isn’t a deep dive into all of the areas. There’s some brief discussion of safety and productivity/efficiency. Episode 1 provides an introduction to the issues of sleep and overall economics and Episode 2 looks a little bit more into timing of sleep and quality with a quick discussion with Heather Schofield who is doing some interesting research into the affect of sleep on data entry jobs.
Sometimes job training needs to start before you get the job. The Kessler Foundation has awarded a grant to the University of Michigan to look at virtual reality based training modules to help youth with disabilities become more confident with their actions when interviewing for a job. (As a quick disclosure, I used to work for the Kessler Foundation within their research division a long time ago).
Researchers in Canada are beginning to dig deeper into a fairly large set of data on construction workers to determine the differences between injury rates between unionized and non-unionized construction workers.
Besides the science that goes into the ballistic properties of bullet proof vests, there is a lot of ergonomics that goes into determining which vests work better at allowing personnel to be able to accurately and effectively perform job tasks. Issues looked at include heat generation/dissipation, performance in obstacle courses, and more. Employees and end users should look to make sure that the issued vests are able to suitably perform all aspects of the job.
Don’t give someone a tool if you don’t teach them how to use it.
Sadly, for as stupid as this seems, there are people out there that would do this.
The Friday Five is a set of five links that I have come across this week that pertain to ergonomics, occupational health, safety, human performance, or human factors. For whatever reason, I found them interesting, but they are provided without commentary and are not meant to be endorsement for a give product.
Ergonomic recycling containers – the lids are open to all sides allowing for easier access to deposit recyclables
American Airlines flight staff seem to be having health issues since their new uniforms were put into service.
Ergonomic mice and keyboards aren’t only for data entry – it can be the difference between winning and losing for gamers.
There are a lot of options for ergonomic keyboards. This site reviews 10 of them.
While there have been reductions in sprains, strains, and other MSDs in many occupations, construction workers still have high rates of MSDs.
The internet is full of lots of information. Some helpful, some esoteric, some entertaining…but, in that portion that is questionably entertaining, there is still some useful information.
What Not To Do Wednesday’s are going to be an opportunity to share some of those viral videos, images, and stories that despite the craziness still have some lessons to be learned.
This week’s video has gone viral since it hit the webs at the beginning of the week. Nobody wants a nest of stinging insects near their garage. There are many different options available at your local hardware store to get rid of these annoying houses for the scary, stinging insects. There are even professional exterminators who excel at doing this safely.
We do not recommend using the solution seen in this video.
There’s many reasons that this is a bad idea:
- While this gentleman is taking his own well-being in his own hands, he is putting the person who filmed him at risk for aggressive yellow jackets that may escape his grip.
- This is a prime example of less than best practices when using a ladder. In both reaching for the nest as well as when he shows the crushed nest, he leans well outside of his base of support – in fact, you can see the ladder shaking multiple times during this video.
- He makes an aggressive movement in reaching for the nest which could have resulted in a fall.
- His barehands put his hands at risk for stinging injuries.
It shouldn’t have to be said, but don’t try this at home or work.
The Entymology Department at the University of Kentucky provides a comprehensive list of strategies for dealing with different types of stinging insects and their hives. Interestingly, they mention that yellow jackets can become very aggressive when disturbed and that sometimes a professional is the best person to handle this situation.
What Not To Do Wednesday will be a regular feature on this blog going forward. I hope that it will become both an educational tool for those that read the blog as well as a resource for those of you who provide safety lectures when you need to illustrate a point.
The Science channel has been running a marathon of Mythbusters episodes to get ready for the Mythbusters: The Search which has kept my children (and me) entertained over the New Year’s weekend. This morning, I found my son watching an episode where they decided to evaluate whether some videogames were “Plausible” or “Busted”.
One of the “myths” dealt with chainsaws and fruit in looking at the Fruit Ninja game and would probably make a great post about chainsaw safety for later.
But the one that caught my eye for the things that they didn’t really talk about was the Doom myth. Plenty of websites discuss the fact that Jamie and Adam created a “pseudomyth” for this episode in looking into whether the space marine in Doom could actually carry all 9 items that they were able to play with while completing game levels. Doom, as one of the original first person shooter games, took a lot of license with reality – but, it’s a game. More recent games, such as FallOut, take into account what a player is carrying or their physical state in determining how fast they can move, how high they can jump, etc.
The goal that Jamie and Adam set out to determine was what was the time impact on carrying the full load of weapons and med kits on completing a simulated game level in real life. They each completed the level as fast as they could, picking up and dropping weapons as they went as their control time. Then Jamie and Adam each went through, using their own carry strategies, and picked up and carried each of the nine items as they acquired them. The total weight by the end of the level was 80 pounds, made up of medkits, weapons, and ammunition packs. Jamie and Adam are not physical fitness specimens, but are not out of shape either. By their admission, they have what they would call an average level of fitness. Their second runs (avg. 11:08) were each almost twice as long as their “clean” runs (avg. 5:45).
They then took one extra look at the scenario and brought in UFC fighter Brendan Schaub to make an attempt at the course. Schaub’s control time (4:00) and his carry time (4:03) were nearly identical.
While this was just a one-off “experiment” for a tv show that was simulating the events of a video game, there are a couple of things that we can learn from this episode about the impact of fitness on performance.
- The much fitter individual (Schaub) was significantly faster under both conditions than people that are of average fitness. He was nearly 2 minutes faster.
- When someone is truly fit loading up with a significant load does not place a significant effect on overall performance – even when it is placing a significantly greater demand on the body. I wish that they had performed all of the runs with at least a HR monitor on the three of them – or even better, a Cosmed portable metabolic unit, to better quantify the overall difference in demand between the two scenarios. A US military study looked at the difference between two type of uniforms/load bearing vests on a simulated march, but it does not look at the difference between unloaded and loaded performance.
- When you are of average fitness, the addition of significant physical load can cause significant changes to your ability to perform a given task.
Again, this is a tv episode simulating a videogame but the actual weight load of 80 pounds has some real world comparisons:
- The gear worn by firefighters (protective clothing, boots, gloves, helmet, SCBA unit) weighs approximately 80 pounds.
- Combat soldiers routinely carry loads in excess of 60 to 90 pounds with greater loads based on length of patrol.
- Bags of cement, used both at home and on job sites, commonly weigh 80 pounds and are carried for short distances.
- We have measured school furniture (multiple times) that is moved by custodial staff at the beginning and ends of the school year that can require between 65 pounds and 100 pounds worth of weight to be carried by each individual moving the item.
Activity calculators, which provide the METs (metabolic equivalents) to describe the physical demand of a task put carrying a 1-15 pound load up a flight of stairs as 5 METs while carrying a 70 pound load in 10 METs and 74+ pounds brings the demand to greater than 12 METs. For comparison, walking on a job site comes in at an easy 2.5 METs while carrying a load of 75 pounds or more on level ground comes in at 8.5 METs. This applies to the real world for EMTs, firefighters, and police – part of their normal activities include helping to bring equipment up stairs as well as downstairs. Transport EMTs often bring patients back up the stairs in apartment buildings when returning them from a medical visit when their is no elevator available. Over ground fighting of fires has also been measured to be in the 12 MET or greater category. This places daily job demands for these individuals in the 10 to 12 MET category.
Interestingly, for firefighters, they have begun to address the issue of cardiovascular fitness in determining what activities can’t be performed if the firefighter can’t perform up to an 8 MET level on a standardized treadmill test. Remember from earlier, tasks that a firefighter performs are in the 12 MET demand category. Section 188.8.131.52 of the NFPA 1582 guidelines places these restrictions when an individual can’t perform up to an 8 MET level on a standardized treadmill test:
- While wearing personal protective gear and SCBA, performing fire-fighting tasks
- Wearing an SCBA, which includes a demand valve-type positive pressure facepiece or HEPA filter masks, which requires the ability to tolerate increased respiratory workloads
- Climbing six or more flights of stairs while wearing fire protective ensemble weighing at least 50 pounds or more and carrying equipment/tools weighing an additional 20 to 40 pounds
- Wearing fire protective ensemble that is encapsulating and insulated, which will result in significant fluid loss that frequent progresses to clinical dehydration and can elevate core temperature to levels exceeding 102.2o F
- While wearing personal protective ensembles and SCBA, searching, finding, and rescue-dragging or carrying victims ranging from newborns up to adults weighing over 200 pounds to safety despite hazardous conditions and low visibility
- While wearing personal protective ensembles and SCBA, advancing water-filled hoselines up to 2.5 in diameter from fire apparatus to occupancy [approximately 150 ft], which can involve negotiating multiple flights of stairs, ladders, and other obstacles
- While wearing personal protective ensembles and SCBA, climbing ladders, operating from heights, walking or crawling in the dark along narrow and uneven surfaces, and operating in proximity to electrical power lines and/or other hazards
- Unpredictable emergency requirements for prolonged periods of extreme physical exertion without benefit of warm-up, scheduled rest periods, meals access to medication(s), or hydration
- Functioning as an integral component of a team, where sudden incapacitation of a member can result in mission failure or in risk of injury to civilians or other team members
Hopefully, other professions will begin to take a stronger look at the physical demands and the fitness levels of those performing the tasks. Physical fitness is a key component to task performance when we are talking about more than light loads. When the actual physical demand of a task increases to the limits of an individual’s fitness level, the risk of injury increases dramatically.
Note: At the time that this was filmed and originally aired, Brendan Schaub was still competing in the UFC. He retired later that year, so please don’t write to tell me that he is a retired UFC fighter.