The Ergonomics Report

July 26, 2012

Force? Repetition? Posture? Duration? Which Risk Factors are Most Important in MSDs?

Risk factors that contribute to or cause MSDs have long been debated by ergonomics professionals and researchers. Peter Budnick reviews the findings of recent research that hones in on the cause-and-effect relationships between certain physical ergonomics risk factors and work-related MSDs, offering opinions on the importance of this science, as well as the need for the ergonomics marketplace to strengthen its MSD assessment tools, and perhaps more important, grow its value proposition beyond MSDs.
July 18, 2012

Researchers Identify Dose-Response Relationship Between ACGIH Hand Activity Level TLV and Risk of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A new study by Italian and USA researchers claim to have found a dose-response relationship between the ACGIH TLV
July 11, 2012

Research Review: Force and Repetition Combine to Affect MSD Risk

Force and repetition are two well-known risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Contributor Sean Gallagher shares the key points and findings resulting from a recent review of scientific articles he and study co-author John Heberger performed. They note that many current ergonomic tools and guidelines consider the factor of repetition to have the same impact on MSD risk no matter the level of force involved. However, their review, published in the journal Human Factors, indicates that it may be the way these two factors are combined that is most important in the development of MSDs.
June 27, 2012

Driver Distraction: Glance Patterns and Durations, More Research Needed

The advent and prevalence of mobile phones, texting, and interactive vehicle dashboards have brought concerns over driver distraction to the forefront. Peter Budnick reviews new research that attempts to investigate the relationship between eye-glance duration, location and history to driver distraction and the likelihood of a crash. The authors rely on real-world driver data collected before the prevalence of mobile devices, but they're biggest finding is that we need better real-world driving data before we can precisely understand eye-glancing as it relates to driver distraction and resulting crashes.
June 20, 2012

Update: All About Keyboard Tray

This is an updated version of guest contributor Janet Peterson's a concise, useful guide to keyboard trays as a means to add adjustability to a fixed height desk or work surface. She provides actionable advice on when a keyboard tray may be the right solution, what "must-have" features to look for, and which optional features will improve workstation ergonomics. She also offers considerations for corner and "U" shaped work stations, and provides wise words of caution regarding keyboard trays advertised as "sit/stand" or "sit-to-stand".
June 18, 2012

Sit vs. Stand: Who Benefits from Sit-to-Stand Workstations?

There are many potential benefits from sit-to-stand and user adjustable furniture, including lower total cost of ownership, fewer MSD's, higher productivity, improved satisfaction, etc. However, to get the greatest benefit for the employee and the company, you need to ensure that you deploy the right equipment to the right population, and then support roll-out by giving users encouragement and guidance in how to be comfortable and successful with the new equipment. This article provides background for the benefits of sit-to-stand workstations, and guidance on how to effectively implement them on a small or large scale basis.
June 7, 2012

All About Keyboard Trays

Guest contributor Janet Peterson, PT, DPT provides a concise, useful guide to keyboard trays as a means to add adjustability to a fixed height desk or work surface. She provides actionable advice on when a keyboard tray may be the right solution, what "must-have" features to look for, and which optional features will improve workstation ergonomics. She also offers considerations for corner and "U" shaped work stations, and provides wise words of caution regarding keyboard trays advertised as "sit/stand" or "sit-to-stand".
May 29, 2012

Research: Prevalence of Low Back Pain in School Children

Peter Budnick reviews a 2010 study that investigates spinal pain among 11 to 14 year old school children in New Zealand. Even if you don't have children or work with them as part of your ergonomics work, the statistics in this research are revealing. Of course, children grow up and will soon be adults attending universities and assuming jobs, perhaps in your workplace. Are there trends that could lead to more back pain sufferers in the future?
May 15, 2012

Can You Tell When You’re Being Lied To?

Peter Budnick reviews recent research directed at helping security screeners recognize human verbal and non-verbal behavior that indicates deception. Specifically, the researchers conducted experiments in which participants were grouped into pairs of truth-tellers and liars. The interviewers were blinded from knowing which groups were telling a true story and which were being deceptive. Subsequent video analysis of behavioral metrics suggested behavioral cues that real-world security screeners might be able to recognize when interacting with two or more conspirators, including language/word use characteristics and visual cues like eye gaze patterns. The research demonstrates the breadth of ergonomics/human factors profession, as well as its diverse value to society.
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