From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Ergonomics Roundup: OSHA MSD Recordkeeping; Patient Safety; Kitchen Ergonomics; Healthy Vision at Work


Deadline to Submit MSD Recordkeeping Comments to OSHA has been Extended to March 30, 2010.

The debate continues regarding whether to add an MSD recordkeeping column to the OSHA 300 Log. A public hearing was held yesterday (March 9, 2010), and the comment period has been extended to March 30, 2010. See for the details of OSHA’s proposal, and for submission instructions.

Here’s an example article, from The Kansas City Star, that summarizes the issue.

Employers get ready for a fight over ergonomic standards

Remember ergonomics?

Expect the political hot potato of 2000-2001 to be juggled again this year.

Among a raft of regulatory crackdowns promised by the Obama administration are tougher rules governing repetitive-motion activity at work.

Read the full article …

And if you think forcing employers to record MSDs is a simple, straightforward issue, think again. Take a look at the this blog on, for example, and the comments that follow, to see how some people perceive ergonomics, and especially ergonomics related regulation.

Ergo Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Some want to regulate what you eat, some want to regulate what you say, and some want to regulate how you type your TPS reports.

Those around long enough to remember the 1990’s will grumble to recall the battle over ergonomics regulations sought by Big Labor and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. OSHA has already taken an important step in the march to regulating ergonomics by announcing its plan to require employers to keep records of ill-defined “musculo-skeletal disorders.”

Read the full blog and follow-up comments …



Consider Human Factors Engineering When Designing Patient Safety Projects

Ergonomics and Human Factors Engineering (HFE) continues to make significant impacts in the healthcare industry, improving outcomes for the patients they serve, and bettering performance for the organizations that "get it." This is a great article that explains the basics of improving patient care, not to mention organizational performance, and reducing medical errors through the application of HFE principles. Here are a few excerpts:

"Every time someone makes a mistake . . . there are processes that failed before that for it to ever get to that place," says Wilson, who worked as a hospital administrator and manager at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City. "It’s rarely just that one person wasn’t vigilant. It’s almost always a systems problem in the process."

HFE is defined by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society as the "scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data, and other methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance."

Although other high-reliability industries, such as aviation and nuclear power, have utilized HFE principles for decades, healthcare only recently began looking to HFE when designing processes and systems.

Read the full article …

Before ‘Julie and Julia’ there was ‘Bill and Julia’

Bill Stumpf, who passed away in 2006 (Pioneer in Ergonomic Seating, William Stumpf, Died August 30), was a famous industrial designer that began embracing ergonomics well before many of his design colleagues did so (sadly, many still don’t). I came across this interesting article describing a collaboration between Bill and Julia Childs, the famous chef depicted in the recent film "Julie and Julia." Since a question regarding kitchen ergonomics was recently posed in he Ergoweb Forums, I thought it was apropos to feature this article — and I’d love to see the publication they reference in the excerpt below.

In 1977, Bill Stumpf, a Winona native, artist and industrial designer, collaborated with Julia Child. Child started the food show phenomena as the French Chef. In her famous Cambridge, Massachusetts, kitchen, Stumpf and Child collaborated on a groundbreaking study of kitchen ergonomics.

They studied the effectiveness of the layout of the kitchen, and the cooking appliances and tools were examined and appraised. Stumpf was invited to stay in their home during the duration of the study. As it progressed, Stumpf embedded himself in the kitchen along with his design team until they completed the extensive study. The results of the study were published by the Walker Art Center in the periodical Design Quarterly — “Julia’s Kitchen, A Design Anatomy.” (No. 104, 1977) The entire issue was devoted to their study. Child’s actual kitchen, the one Stumpf and his team studied, is now on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.

Read the full article …

Healthy Vision on the Job Is Everyone’s Business

Vision issues, especially as they relate to computer use, is a common theme in occupational ergonomics. The American Optometric Association (AOA) is using "Save our Vision Month" to promote ways to prevent workplace eye strain and eye injuries.

In honor of March’s Save Your Vision Month, the AOA encourages Americans to prevent workplace eye strain and eye injuries by following some easy and important steps

"Healthy vision is critical to successfully completing job-related tasks," said James Sheedy, O.D. Ph.D., Director of the Vision Ergonomics Laboratory at the College of Optometry at Pacific University and AOA’s occupational vision specialist. "And while most people think of construction or manufacturing as high-risk occupations where eye injuries are prevalent, even jobs requiring ‘smart phones,’ laptops and desktop computers can cause vision problems if not used properly."  See the entire AOA press release …