Friday Five – 8/2/19

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 or research paper.

Diane Gyi et al. have created a new anthropometry data set for plus sized workers.  With increasing obesity levels, this new dataset is very important as many of the original data sets  that were utilized were based on measurements of military personnel.  A course from The Back School on ergonomics for plus sized workers was a good reminder for me that this category requires some different ergonomic considerations because there are some different biomechanical needs when setting up or correcting workstations.  It was also a good reminder that this category is not necessarily about obesity – the plus sized worker category includes anyone that is outside of the normative data sets, regardless of the reason why they fall outside of the normative data.  (When I originally took the course, it reminded me of The Incredibles when Bob tries to become a non-super hero, stuffing himself into the small car or into his cubicle at work).

Dominique Larouche et al. look at the issue of safe handling techniques for paramedics when transferring patients from stair chairs to stretchers.  One of the interesting points is that they believe that training needs to be oriented more towards the ability to adapt work techniques based on the environment and on the work teammates.

Joshua Zheng Rui Ting et al. investigated the effect of an ergonomics/exercise intervention compared to an ergonomics/health promotion intervention on workability levels in the office worker population.   For the general population, there was no significant difference in results.  But for a subgroup of office workers who reported neck pain (greater than 3/10 at start of study), the ergonomics and exercise intervention group demonstrated trending improvements in workability when compared to the ergonomics/health promotion group, if they completed at least 70% of the exercise sessions.

Peter Love et al. dealt with the difficulties in establishing operational guidelines for construction safety when the information on injuries is not readily available to use to set best practice guidelines.

Kaitlin Gallagher et al. noted that walking breaks can help to reduce low back pain that is induced by prolonged standing.   Walking and moving is something that I have been an advocate of for a long time.  Walking is not only great to break up prolonged postures (sitting or standing) but the overall movement is helpful for preventing other health issues as well.

 

Taking A Deeper Dive Into Your Injury Data

Recently, WorkersCompensation.com and Safety+Health Magazine ran two articles that provided interesting injury information that came from taking a deeper dive into reported injury data.

WorkersCompensation.com reported that injury rates in construction workers in Tennessee were higher for those on the job under two years. In both Tennessee and Ohio, injury rates for workers with less than 1 year of experience accounted for 47.5% and 45.6% of the total injuries, respectively. Workers with less than 6 months of experiences accounted for 37.1% and 33.6%, respectively.   The article notes two important thoughts:

  • Fingers and hand injuries were among the top 10 injured body parts – an issue that can be reduced with appropriate PPE
  • Teaming up new, inexperienced workers with mentors to learn to recognize work hazards

Safety+Health took an interesting look at the effects of shift length and inexperience on the risk of injury to those working in the mining industry. They reported on data from a study by researchers at University of Illinois at Chicago that found that miners working shifts longer than 9 hours “were 32% more likely to suffer work-related fatalities and 73% more likely to be part of an incident that caused injuries to multiple miners.” Risk factors for injury for those working more than 9 hours included workers that had less than 2 years experience in the job as well as irregular work schedules. Among the suggestions to reduce the risks were fixed schedules and a recommendation into looking deeper into the effects of longer shifts on “fatigue and nutrition”.

One of the key things that we ask on our FCE intake paperwork is the amount of time that a claimant has been working in their current position. More often than not, many of those who have been sent to us for the functional capacity evaluation have less than 1 year in the position in which they were injured. Length of employment at time of injury is a data point that all employers should be monitoring. When trends appear such as in the two studies noted, employers need to take a look at hiring practices and new hire training practices. They may find that their hiring process should include a post-offer pre-employment test of physical abilities to ensure that new hire candidates meet the essential physical and postural demands of the position.

Looking at injury data (OSHA logs, loss run data, etc.) should be a part of the process of setting up a post-offer pre-employment process in conjunction with performing on-site measurements to create a customized job description of the essential postural and physical demands. The injury data may help to pinpoint job tasks that require a deeper look to determine why employees are getting injured. Is it an ergonomic issue? Is it an issue of strength? Is it an issue of better standard operating procedures?

One of our clients asked for our assistance in reviewing the injury data after initiating a post-offer pre-employment testing process for an ambulance transport service to determine the effectiveness of the program. We looked at data from 3 years prior to initiation of the process as well as 3 years after (we encourage employers to look at this more frequently).   The initial review of the data indicated a minor drop in injuries after initiating the program (an overall drop of 6 injuries after initiating testing).

With only a small reduction in injuries, a deeper dive into the data was required. Several interesting variables were found during this deeper dive:

  • The number of neck, shoulder, and lower back injuries decreased but injuries involving the hands and exposure injuries increased
  • The number of employees decreased by 20% between the two periods
  • The number of transports increased after testing when there were less employees increasing the amount of exposure opportunities to be injured

Taking into account the reduction in the number of employees and the increase in patients transported, there is a 26.8% reduction in injuries.

Taking the deeper dive into the data allows for a greater understanding of the mechanisms that may be driving the injuries that your employees are experiencing. Make the time to look at your OSHA logs to see if there are injury trends, look at the amount of time employed at time of injury to see if there are trends with your new employees, or take a look at your loss runs to see if certain departments have either a greater number of injuries or a greater amount of lost time compared to other departments. All of these become a starting point in reducing future injuries.minied

 

 

 

Friday Five – 4/28/17

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 or research paper.

These links were generated during a PubMed search on the terms: applied ergonomics

Lee et al. investigated the position of two different wearable sensor systems on the posture of construction workers while performing assigned tasks in a laboratory.  As those who have worked with motion capture devices know, placement of these sensors is everything in terms of collected data.

He et al. look at using Google Glass to monitor eye blinking in drivers to determine signs of drowsiness.  Distracted driving is something that we’ve hit upon in other posts.  Technology such as this may be able to go along way in helping drivers to recognize when they are too fatigued to drive safely.

Schmidt et al. investigated a different way of dealing with fatigue during long drives through the use of a cooling device to help improve alertness.

Armstrong et al. reviewed the impact of two paramedic services transitioning to a powered stretcher to help reduce injuries related to patient transport.  This appears to be a cost-effective solution with a reduction in injuries during patient transport.

Hlavenka et al. investigated the effect of neck posture during lifting tasks on both lumbar spine posture and activation of trunk musculature.  They indicate that a retracted neck posture may help to lower the risk of pain and injury during lifting tasks.

 

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.

 

 

Friday Five – 1/27/17

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 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.

 

 

Friday Five

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.