From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Ergonomics Roundup: Sitting is Deadly? Is Ergonomics Ready for a Big Show? Human Modeling Systems; MSD Recordkeeping; Distracted Driving; Mind, Machine and Morality

Peter Budnick


Will Sitting Too Much Kill You?

There were headlines around the world this week proclaiming that sitting too much may be deadly. I thought we had somehow missed important research on sitting, but my search led to an editorial, not a research study, that appeared in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, and a press release that spawned the many popular media articles. The authors propose some interesting ideas and point to research that supports a theory that prolonged sitting, a specific type of inactivity, is potentially dangerous – even deadly – and even for people who otherwise exercise regularly. There’s a lot more to their treatise, and some obvious tie-ins to ergonomics, so I’ve prepared a more in-depth review of the editorial for The Ergonomics Report.

Disclosure: I’ve been working almost exclusively in a standing position for about 1 1/2 years now. My workstations are adjustable, supporting a sitting or standing working posture, but I rarely sit anymore. Interestingly, even though I know there are ergonomic benefits to standing work, I was motivated to switch to standing work by “Lean” management methods. Yes, I have benefited physiologically by standing, but there are also productivity and organizational gains to be had. For example, read Kevin Meyer’s (a blogger with opinions on standing work from a non-ergonomist viewpoint.

Here’s one example of the many articles you can find on this subject:

Sitting too much may be deadly: experts
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald,

Here’s a new warning from health experts: Sitting is deadly.

Scientists are increasingly warning that sitting for prolonged periods – even if you also exercise regularly – could be bad for your health. And it doesn’t matter where the sitting takes place – at the office, at school, in the car or before a computer or television – just the overall number of hours it occurs.

Research is preliminary, but several studies suggest people who spend most of their days sitting are more likely to be fat, have a heart attack or even die.

Read the full article …


Major Conference Producer Asks: Does Ergonomics warrant its own major industry event?

Kevin O’Keefe, of Canon Communications, asked the following question in the Ergoweb Forums:

I am responsible for producing the largest advanced manufacturing events held here in the United States. These tradeshows have as a key component the leading medical device manufacturing exhibitions and conferences held worldwide. My question to the group is; Is there sufficient regulatory change expected, or is heightened recognition occurring in the ergonomics space to warrant the development of a dedicated exhibition and conference? My company is capable of and typically promotes on a significant scale.

I would be interested in any feedback.

Share your opinion …

ESI Becomes a SantosHuman Inc. Authorized Reseller

There are several high-end digital human modeling systems that integrate with manufacturing simulation software systems, including Dassault Systemes, Siemens, and a newer company, SantosHuman, who recently made this announcement:

ESI North America has become an official reseller of SantosHuman Inc. digital human modeling products and services, and as such handles sales, distribution and training. Santos™ uses biomechanics and physics optimization to predict posture and human motion. With this alliance, SantosHuman Inc. benefits from a recognized partner with an established distribution network for physics-based simulation solutions.

Read the full article …


This is old news if you follow the articles we publish in Ergoweb’s Ergonomics Today™ and The Ergonomics Report™, but it’s always interesting to see how the popular media picks up and interprets issues related to ergonomics. This article points to OSHA’s push for rulemaking that would require employers to record ergonomics-related injuries on their OSHA logs:

OSHA pushes new safety rules on musculoskeletal injuries
By Ames Alexander

OSHA is pushing for federal rules that would require companies to count job-related musculoskeletal disorders – a step that could make it easier for safety officials to prevent such injuries.

But the emerging plan may also provoke a battle with business groups. Industry leaders fear it could pave the way for regulation to prevent MSDs, the most common injuries in American factories.  (

This next  link is for political junkies. While it does mention ergonomics, it does so only as an example of the first and last time the US Congress used the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn legislation. That’s right, the Clinton era ergonomics standard has the dubious distinction of being the one and only casualty of the CRA to date. But, as these articles describe, the CRA may once again be used in a movement to combat the Obama administration’s recent decision allowing the EPA to controll greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

GOP: Climate e-mails corrupted EPA finding on greenhouse gas link to health
By Ben Geman

Republican lawmakers battling planned Environmental Protection Agency climate change rules said Thursday that EPA has run afoul of federal data standards — and they’re citing the now-infamous hacked climate science e-mails to bolster their case.

Four GOP lawmakers say EPA’s recent “endangerment finding” that greenhouse gas emissions threaten human health — a finding that’s a precursor to regulation — violates the Data Quality Act (DQA).

Read the full article …


Distracted Driving

I came across this list of research articles dedicated to distracted driving. I like how they attached a brief synopsis of the key findings to each study reference. For example:

Strayer, DL. & Drews, FA. (2004). Profiles in Driver Distraction: Effects of Cell Phone Conversations on Younger and Older Drivers. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 46(4), 640-649.

Synopsis – Younger and older drivers conversing on a hands-free cell phone were found to have slower responses to random braking by the vehicle ahead.  Cell phone use slowed the younger drivers’ responses to an extent that they were equivalent to the older drivers’ response times when they were not using a cell phone. The younger drivers responded 0.13 seconds more slowly, and the older drivers responded 0.17 seconds more slowly when conversing on a cell phone. Overall, use of cell phone resulted in 18% slower responses to the vehicle ahead braking.

See the full list of Recommended List of Studies on Driver Distraction


I haven’t read this book, but I’m willing to bet it would get my philosophical ergonomics juices flowing. If technology is a gatekeeper in modern times, then ergonomists hold the keys to make technology accessible and purposeful. I’m guessing I won’t agree with everything Peter Hancock has to say on the subject, but he’s such a dynamic thinker and speaker I look forward to his views.

Mind, Machine and Morality
Toward a Philosophy of Human-Technology Symbiosis
BY Peter A. Hancock, University of Central Florida, USA

Technology is our conduit of power. In our modern world, technology is the gatekeeper deciding who shall have and who shall have not. Either technology works for you or you work for technology. It shapes the human race just as much as we shape it. But where is this symbiosis going? Who provides the directions, the intentions, the goals of this human-machine partnership?

Read the full book review …