Friday Five – 3/17/17

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 week’s Five come from some of the newest additions to PubMed when using the search terms: ergonomics and workplace.

Shafti et al. looked at performance of work related tasks and levels of perceived discomfort (Borg scale) versus measurements from the Rapid Upper Limb Assessment and data collected from EMG sensors and electronic goniometers.  Not surprisingly, the RULA tool and data collected on muscle activity and joint angles were better at picking up small changes than the perceived discomfort described by the study subjects.

Khandan et al. utilized Fuzzy Technique for Order of Preference by Similarity to Ideal Solution (TOPSIS) to review job positions within a manufacturing facility to help determine which job titles would benefit from ergonomic interventions.  Often, clients realize that they have many positions that would benefit from ergonomic intervention but have limited funds to apply to interventions.  Tools such as this allow ergonomic professionals to better direct employers to the best application of limited intervention funds.  

This paper in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience by Nafizi et al.  looks at the muscle synergies that occur during slipping events.  Determining what happens in the initial microseconds of a slipping event can help lead to the development of strategies to reduce injuries during slip and fall events.

Irzmansk and Tokarski created a new method of ergonomic testing for gloves that protect and cuts and stab wounds when using knives.  One of the biggest issues with glove usage is that the design of gloves  can change muscle recruitment, usage, and fatigue patterns when compared to performance of the activity without glove usage.  Specialty gloves for butchers and fishmongers are designed to protect against injuries from knife usage hovewever they can increase the physical gripping demands of the task.  This study helps to better quantify these changes based on glove design.

A paper in Applied Ergonomics by Coenen et al. looks into the issues of “prolonged sedentary time” and reviewed occupational health and safety policies that relate to this issue.  No specific existing policies were found, however the authors note that the issue of prolonged sedentary behavior is one that needs to be researched and addressed.

 

 

 

 

What Not To Do Wednesday – 3/15/17

A recent article in The Daily Meal focused on bad kitchen hygiene habits that can be observed by watching most of the television shows featuring celebrity chefs.  These habits include unsafe handling of meats and vegetables, lack of personal protective equipment (gloves), and unsafe techniques for tasting food while cooking.  The article points out that a reminder during the show about safe techniques could go along way to prevent unsafe and unhealthy techniques being used for cooks at home.  A “Don’t Do What I Do” reminder, if you will.

The celebrity food shows are not the only media in which poor or unsafe techniques are shown.

chip on top step of ladder

I hate to pick on Fixer Upper (it’s a favorite show in our home) as Chip’s goofiness is always the source of a few laughs.  But, this morning as my kids were watching a rerun, I heard him discuss some issues with the roof of a house that they were renovating.  When the word “ladder” came across the speaker of the television, I knew that I needed to take a quick peak.  I grabbed a quick picture with my cell phone as I saw them pull out the sketchy wooden A-frame ladder which was well below the roof line of the house.  Not only did Chip stand on the top step of the ladder with not great holding by his wife, he used this top step as a launching point to climb on to the roof.

In defense of Fixer Upper, almost every home improvement/home repair show on HGTV and DIY features moments just like this one – whether it is with ladders, saws, hammers, etc.  As Joanna Fantozzi of The Daily Meal pointed out in her article, a quick reminder of safety principles could go along way towards better safety practices of homeowners as they are attempting to do home renovations and repairs.

While This Old House may not be as fun and glitzy as its HGTV relatives, they include a lot of safety information as they take on different tasks on the show.

Ladder accidents cause nearly 500,000 injuries per year and the rate of ladder injuries has been increasing every year.  A significant portion of these injuries are not work related and occur at home.

There are several simple solutions to reducing the number of ladder related injuries:

  • Use the right type of ladder.
    • Use wood or fiberglass ladders when dealing with electricity.
    • Make sure that the ladder is of sufficient height for the task being performed.
    • Make sure that the ladder has a sufficient strength rating for the weight of the user and and tools/materials that are being carried or used.
  • Make sure that the ladder is in good shape.
    • If the ladder is worn or damaged, make sure that the ladder is repaired to manufacturer standards or replaced.
  • Make sure that you are using the ladder properly.
    • Maintain 3 points of contact when climbing.
    • Don’t reach out of your base of support.
    • When necessary, climb down, move the ladder, and climb again.
  • Make sure that you use proper ladder placement.
    • Place ladder on firm, even ground.
    • Use an assistant/helper to support the base of the ladder to prevent slipping.
    • Don’t place the ladder in front of doors that have not been secured.

One last suggestion comes from a recent paper in Injury by Ackland et al.  In their review of admissions to intensive care units due to ladder related injuries, they recommend that ladder users wear helmets to reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries in the event of a fall from a ladder.  They note that this is especially important in home based environments as typical worksite occupational health and safety regulations are not in effect.

 

 

Friday Five – 3/10/17

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.

The news media this morning had several stories noting that beginning in July medical residents may work consecutively from 16 hours to 24 hours.  Interestingly, there were many medical residents that were in favor of this change.   Taking this change to resident’s shifts and the upcoming changing of the clocks for Daylight Saving Time, this Friday Five is focused on shift work.

Some residents looked forward to the increased hours as a way of reducing mid-case handoff of ER cases due to hitting the 16 hour mark.  A research letter by Charlie Wray, DO et al. in JAMA looked at handoff policies for residents at hospitals as implemenation of these practices, despite guidelines, is left to each hospital to implement.

A study published last year investigated the effect of hours per week worked by an admitting resident on patient outcomes.  It found that individuals admitted by residents working 80+ hours per week had longer hospital stays and more ICU transfers than those admitted by residents working less than 80 hours per week.  However, there did not appear to be a relationship between hours worked and 30 day readmission rates or in-hospital mortality rates.

Fernando and Roswell looked at the work performed during nursing shifts and noted that the types of work and volume of work performed varied through a 24 hour work cycle.  They note that the scheduling of shifts needs to take type of work and work volume into account.

Two older studies looked at the incidence of work related injuries following onset of Daylight Saving Time.  A study of American mine workers found an increase in injuries on the Monday following the start of DST and a decrease in total sleep for that night by 40 minutes.  A Canadian study found no statistical relationship between injuries and the onset of DST.

Interestingly,  researchers found that the rate of ischemic strokes increases during the first two days after the onset of daylight saving time.

 

Friday Five – 3/3/17

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.

Dr. Caitlin McGee, M.S., PT, DPT is a physical therapist with an interest in orthopedics and ergonomics for e-athletes.  She posted an ergonomic review of a prototype of the Smash Box controller.

This article covers 5 common injuries that potentially affect gamers.  Even though it is a couple of years old, it is still applicable today.  Keep in mind that gamers can be going home and playing for several hours on a daily basis – issues that they have from poor ergonomics in their home gaming set-up can be carried over to their workspace.

The original Hermann Miller Aeron chair wasn’t built for office workers.  The designers were working from input from senior citizens who listed needs such as cool temperatures,  easy on the joints, and easy to get up from or sit down on.  This article covers how these chairs ended up in offices across the world.

As always, it seems what is old becomes new again.  This article about kneeling chairs and back pain recently popped up in one of my Google Alerts for ergonomics.  I remember back in the late 1980s having one of these kneeling chairs in our house when I was a kid.

Boston Dynamics keeps building their amazing robots.  Their latest robot, Handle, is able to maneuver for distances of up to 15 miles, carry loads up to 100 pounds, navigate stairs with ease, and leap up to 4 feet vertically.  Could these be in warehouse environments in the near future?  The creations of Boston Dynamics always make me wonder how long it will be before Skynet becomes self-aware.

 

 

 

Human Factors at The Oscars

Steven Shorrock provides a great look into what went on with the mishandled envelope at the Oscars leading to the announcement of an incorrect winner by Warren Beatty.

Humanistic Systems

5121440257_e81647480b_o.jpg Photo: Craig Piersma CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/8NyHL6

“An extraordinary blunder”

It has variously been described as “an incredible and almost unbelievable gaffe” (Radio Times), the greatest mistake in Academy Awards history” (Telegraph), “an extraordinary blunder…an unprecedented error” (ITV News), “the most spectacular blunder in the history of the starry ceremony” and “the most awkward, embarrassing Oscar moment of all time: an extraordinary failure” (Guardian).

It was, of course, the Grand Finale of the Oscars 2017.

Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty are all set to announce the best picture win. Beatty begins to read out the winners card. But he looks visibly puzzled, pausing and looking in the envelope to see if there is anything else that he’s missed. He begins to read out the winners card, “And the Academy Award…”…

View original post 2,163 more words

Friday Five – 2/24/17

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 week’s Friday Five is going to be focused on healthcare providers.

Surgery is a physically demanding task for the surgical team.  Being that surgeons are people too, they come to work with some of the same nagging aches and pains that all of have.  This study by Susan Hallbeck et al. looked at the impact of surgeons taking small breaks to stretch and exercise during surgeries longer than 2.5 hours or more than 4 hours of cumulative surgery during an op day.  Participating surgeons noted a significant reduction in shoulder pain and felt that the microbreaks were not distracting to surgical performance.

In relation to the above mentioned paper, researchers in Italy looked at the postures and positions related to surgical performance.  For those in the realm of ergonomics, it is no surprise that the ability to control the height of the surgical table reduces the risk of musculoskeletal complaints.

Researchers looked at the human factors involved in performance of nursing tasks and developed a methodology that increased direct patient contact time which resulted in a reduction in missing medicines which caused a decrease in lost time in tracking down medications.  It’s important to look at the way we do things and determine what makes our jobs easier and what tasks take away from being able to perform our primary functions.

The last two papers today involve Neal Wiggerman from Hill-Rom.  The first paper looks at the impact of the placement of brake pedals and hand controls on hospital beds and the required forces to manipulate the bed.

The second paper looks at the impact of powered drive units of bariatric beds for pushing, pulling, maneuvering into elevators, controlling ramp descents, and stopping when compared to non-powered bariatric beds.  The powered units demonstrate significant impacts across the spectrum.   It was nice to see the inclusion of controlling the descent on ramps.  We have performed on-site measurements in several hospitals and this is an area that is often forgotten as many hospitals don’t have significant ramps.  However, when we were measuring demands for patient transporters at a hospital in Philadelphia, the hospital was comprised of several buildings purchased at different times on a hilly property.  As the hospital acquired the buildings, connecting ramps were built as none of the buildings had floors at corresponding heights.  Due to the ramps, pushing and pulling forces in this hospital had a 25% greater requirement than in similar hospitals with no intra-floor ramps.

 

 

 

 

What Not To Do Wednesday – 2/22/17

This What Not To Do Wednesday is a little bit different.  I recently came across an article about an OSHA investigation into the death of a mountain climbing guide in Wyoming.

Typically, people think of OSHA and workplace safety as a construction or manufacturing issue and don’t realize that the involvement of OSHA is much further reaching.  In the past, OSHA has looked into the death of a marine mammal trainer at Sea World after an orca attacked a trainer as well as ski resorts after a ski director was killed in an avalanche.  OSHA also became involved in a recent case of a researcher in Montana who was killed by a grizzly bear.  OSHA noted that the researcher did not have anti-bear devices when he left to go into the field and that his employer did not have a check-in/check-out procedure to make sure that employees were properly equipped.

In the case of the climbing guide, OSHA looked into details surrounding a failure of a specific piece of safety equipment that failed as the climbing guide was attempting to retrieve a descending device.  OSHA acknowledged that the item was a piece of personally owned gear and that the actual failure was a knot tied by the guide.  Exum Mountain Guides agreed to perform formal annual inspections of both company and personal gear as part of their safety changes due to this case.  It was acknowledged that the failure of the knot was not Exum’s responsibility and that it isn’t practical for Exum to double check every knot tied by its employees.  OSHA also acknowledged that the guide was highly experienced.

The important thing to remember is that if there is a risk of injury to your employees, you need to have a safety plan to minimize or mitigate those risks – even if it is the potential of attacks by bears, whales, avalanches, or personal equipment failure.

 

Friday Five – 2/17/17

Friday Five – 2/2/17 – NJ Ergonomics Blog

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.

We are now about a month in to the new administration.  Tom Muskin at Safety and Health Magazine takes a look at what might be coming down the pike with changes at OSHA.  Two interesting points are that President Trump is the first president with experience as a business person dealing with OSHA and that we may see a shift from shaming the companies who are found to be in violation to a climate of trying to assist companies to not be in violation.  There are some interesting pros and cons to that shift.

It’s still winter time out but this research paper by Rameez Rameezdeen and Abbas Elmualin in the January 2017 issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health takes a look at construction site injuries during heat waves.  One of the interesting points is that new workers (less than 1 year in job) and workers over 55 years old have higher injury rates during heat waves.   This is a good time to start planning for the heat of summer and checking protocols for dealing with employee hydration and other heat related protocols.

As was mentioned in this week’s What Not To Do Wednesday, the military becomes a great place to learn lessons.  In addition to accident reviews, they do an amazing amount of research to understand current problems so that they are no longer problems in the future.  This paper by AM Kelley et al in the February 2017 issue of Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance looks at the issue of helicopter aircrews and back pain through the lens of age, gender, airframe, and more.  Only by looking at current complaints can we reduce future complaints.

This might make for one of the more interesting projects for an engineering lab.  Carolyn Summerich, PhD of Ohio State University looked at ergonomics issues affecting tattoo artists.  Not surprisingly, there are some potential musculoskeletal issues lurking in this industry.

In France, a 105 year old man not only set a record a one hour cycling record but also helped to prove that physical performance and ability can be improved at any age.  Dr. Veronique Billat and her colleagues at University of Evry-Val d’Essonne in France followed Robert Marchand’s performance and provided him with a workout program that he followed for two years (from age 103 to age 105).  In testing, they found his VO2 improved 13% and was comparable to that of a 50 year old.  This is something that is going to be revisited in the future on this site.

 

 

What Not To Do Wednesday – 2/15/17

Admit it, at least once while driving you’ve had your cell phone or water bottle fall into the driver’s side foot well.  In fact, often the footwear we choose can come loose and get caught in the pedals.  With luck, we are able to clear the obstruction quickly and safely and avoid accidents.

This issue is not limited to automobiles.  Currently, a court martial proceeding in England is looking at a near crash of a Royal Air Force transport plane in 2014 while flying to Afghanistan.

The pilot had allegedly been taking photographs from the flight deck while the co-pilot was getting a cup of tea.  Allegedly, the pilot placed the camera to the left of his seat when he was finished taking pictures.  Prosecutors state that when the pilot moved his seat forward, the seat caught the camera and pushed it into the flight controls and placing the aircraft in an uncontrolled descent that was arrested after the plane had rapidly descended several thousand feet.  Many of the passengers, as well as the co-pilot, were injured when the became pressed against the ceiling due to the rapid descent.

In this particular type of aircraft, the flight controls are placed to the side of the pilot rather than in front of the pilot which sets a potential deadly situation such as what happened.   These types of accidents can occur in both aircraft and other types of vehicles when loose objects get wedged into control surfaces, whether it is a steering control or pedals.

Sometimes it is loose objects that we didn’t secure, but sometimes controls can be inhibited by things that we’ve placed and forgotten to remove.  A USAF C-130 crashed in Jalalabad, Afghanistan in October 2015 due to the case from a pair of night vision goggles being used to hold a control yoke in place.  The case had been set to hold the control yoke in a position that moved rear control surfaces out of the way of crew that had been unloading the plane while the plane was still running.  This particular hack was not a sanctioned method, but one that was used because the task was physically tiresome.  With the fact that the plane was still “hot”, it is possible that the flight crew missed a standard control surface check that would have found the case from the goggles before the plane took off.

The lessons from these two incidents is to make sure that there are not loose items that can move in a way that blocks control surfaces or if an object is placed in a position to hold a control surface for a task, it is removed before further usage.  In this second scenario, full use of check lists can help prevent problems.  Appropriate usage of checklists is a topic that we will be coming back to in the near future.

These lessons are not taken from military accidents to slight the military in any way.  In fact, more lessons from the military will pop in the future in this column for one specific reason.  Among the many things that the military does well, accident review is an area in which it excels.  The main reason for this is so that lessons that have been learned at the costs of lives and equipment need to be taught so that the same accident does not occur a second time.  The fact that they publicly report this information allows all of us to learn the lessons of these accidents.

What Not To Do Wednesday – 2/10/17

I’m posting on Friday because Wednesday was a little busy with weather preparations for Winter Storm Niko.  But, the delay dropped us a great WNTDW topic.

Fortunately, all reports indicate that this cheerleader is ok and does not have significant injuries.

Cheerleading is a demanding and occasionally dangerous activity with a lot of falls.  The what not to do portion hits three times within this video.

Admittedly, all videos of this event have a small break in the video between the fall and the cheerleader being carried out.  However, the first WNTD occurs when a member of the coaching staff chooses to carry the injured cheerleader from the court.  This cheerleader fell on her back and struck her head against the floor.  She should have been checked by the medical staff.

The coaching staff member then chose to run/walk at a very fast pace while carrying someone who has been injured.  Again, with a potential head and back injury, this is a definite WNTD.

Finally, because the person was moving fast while carrying the cheerleader, he was unable to see that his path was not clear which caused him to trip, fall, and drop the injured cheerleader.

Each of these WNTD’s could have been prevented by making sure that all staff members were instructed and trained on emergency procedures in the event of an injury.  With the potential head, neck, and back injuries, this cheerleader should have left the court on a stretcher/backboard – not carried by hand.