December 13th, 2001

Live From The National Ergonomics Conference

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Ergonomists from around the country convened in Las Vegas Nevada for the National Ergonomics Conference and Exhibition which continues through Thursday. This year, the program has incorporated more educational sessions with topics including ergonomics programs, economic analysis, OSHA citation practices and case studies from companies like Wal-Mart and Toyota.

Another feature of the conference and exhibition was the exhibitor product showcase. These sessions, free to all attendees, invited exhibitors to make a thirty minute presentation of their products and services.

Those walking through the exhibitor showcase have been given a look at both old favorites and new technologies. Dave Sebesta of 3M was on hand to show the first general public introduction of 3M anti-fatigue floor matting. Complete with mats and sensors that displayed, in color, the distribution of weight across the foot, this booth had weary conference walkers finding some comfort.

Not to be missed in the exhibition hall was what looked like a ten foot tall steel cage topped with red and blue lights inside of which model Robert sat with body positioning marker. The ‘cage’ is actually part of a system that allows virtual prototyping of facilities and equipment with an actual human element. Vicon, which is owned by Oxford Metrics, demonstrates how human components of the software model of an engineering system (known as “avatars”) are used to test operation, occupancy, assembly, and maintenance. The human tester’s own actions are tracked to generate realistic movements of the avatar within the simulation.

While many exhibitors noted that conference attendance wasn’t quite up to what they had hoped, most of which is attributed to budget changes after September 11th, many like Chris Grahl of GRAHL commented that, “The people we see are interested and happy to see our product.”

Noticeably absent was the much touted appearance of OSHA Secretary John Henshaw. Replacing his scheduled concluding remarks will be the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, Mr. Davis Layne. Many have speculated that as OSHA continues to avoid addressing the ergonomics issue, Mr. Henshaw’s presence before a crowd of ergonomics professionals would not be wise public relations.

The 2002 National Ergonomics Conference is scheduled for December 9-12 at Caesars Palace Hotel, Las Vegas. For more information on the National Ergonomics Conference, visit http://www.ergoexpo.com.



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