Ergonomics Risk Factor(ERF) is a factor, which can cause trauma to the musculoskeletal system.
Ergonomics risk factor is the end product of disequilibrium of the W-WE ecosystem. This disequilibrium is normally caused by the component of work environment in the form of flaws in workstation and machine design, poor work procedure standard and non-conducive workplace environment. When this happen, the work environment will cause strain to the W-WE relationship, which will result in disequilibrium of the ecosystem.
This poor work environment condition and arrangement will produce strain in the form of ergonomics risk factors.
The magnitude of the risk factors will determine the course of the injury. If the magnitude of the risk factors above tolerance to human body, it will cause macro trauma in the form of sprain and strain.
On other side, if the magnitude of the risk is below tolerance, it only causes micro trauma, which can recover overtime. This process is called wear and tear of the musculoskeletal system. However, the micro trauma will accumulate and turn into major trauma if the risk is persistently imposed on the musculoskeletal system. The bottom line is ergonomics risk factors will cause MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS (MSDs).
Friday, February 20, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
The work environment (WE) – the second component of the W-WE ecosystem consist of the work environment, secondary tools and the job procedure. The work environment including all the hazards existed in the environment such as noise, temperature, vibration etc. The secondary tools are the tools used in business other than the worker. The job procedure including all the standard and non-standard work practices at workplace. It is clear that all the above are human created: the human determines the environment, the machine and the job procedures. This statement is very important because it brings us to the conclusion that the work environment component of W-WE ecosystem is adjustable and can be redesigned.
The first component of the ecosystem is not adjustable although from physiological perspective our body system tends to adjust to the strain arose from the external before it ends up with serious injury.
Factors in work environment such as vibration can cause harm to the worker. Flaws in design of the workstation will impose strain to the human who try to adjust their body by adopting an awkward posture. Poor work/job standard procedures will cause inefficiency and constant injury to the musculoskeletal system.
Interesting to point out here that although the human body system is not adjustable in the sense of major changing in its size and measurement,the human body is naturally adjusting to the work environment factors until the body system cant resist the strain further. When this happened, it will cause injury to the musculooskeletal system .
This is the challenging that we face if we want to implement ergonomics at workplace.
Any attempt to change the workstation design and improving the inefficient standard procedure of practice will face a resistance from both workers and the management.
The management will label this attempt as challenging the decision of the past policy maker and management leadership.
Friday, February 13, 2009
The Worker(W) or Human as the primary tool of business has limited capability in term of their physical, mental and physiology. Human physical is formed by muscle, bone, nerve, tendon, ligaments and joints. In anatomy, it is called Musculoskeletal System. So the worker is basically the Musculoskeletal system. Our physical measurements are fixed. We cannot increase our height, the length of our upper and lower limbs etc, although we can increase our weight which can gives burden to our body if it is above the ideal body weight. Human has physical variation. The study of human physical measurements and its variation is called Anthropometry. The developed countries like US has their own anthropometric table. The muscle and joint has its movement limitation. This is the focus of study in the Biomechanic field. The study of how human body functions is called physiology.
Inorder to understand human limited capability, we need to have some knowledge in Anthropometry, Biomechanics, Anatomy, Physiology and also Pyschology.
What is the indicator to say that the human limited capability is overburdened by the factors existed in the work environment?
Generally, we can say that when the safety and health of the human is affected, there is a factor in the environment causing it. To be specific, from ergonomics perspective, if the human or worker suffers from Musculoskeletal disorder(MSDs), there is always a physical overburden created by his work environment.
God The AlMighty had created human with this limited capability and we cannot change it. The only thing we can change is what we have created in our work environment : - the workplace design and the work (job & task) arrangement, i.e. the second component of the worker-work environment (W-WE) ecosystem.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
The Worker(W) as the the component of worker-work environment(W-WE) ecosystem was first came into the mainstream of ergonomics focus during the World War II (WWII). Previously, the engineering experts only focused on machine-work environment system, they never thought of the human as one of the vital component of the system. Only during the WWII, they realised that the military machines were very complex to operate and very heavy in size for human capability. For instance, the design of Fighter Plane Cockpit which would only fit for 5 feet 8 inches and 150 Ib male.
After the WWII, the human become the main focus in designing the machine and workstation, giving birth to the field of Ergonomics.
Why worker is so important in the worker-work environment ecosystem?
The worker is the primary tool of the organisation to do their business. The term primary tool was first coined by our very own renowned Ergonomist, Dr Jalaludin Dahalan of Ergoworks.
Without the worker, the business in any organisation will collapse. If the worker cannot function to the optimum, the business productivity will be jeopardised. The worker cannot function to the optimum, if the work environment components cause overburden to their capability.This will cause inequlibrium of the system.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The Worker-Work Environment (W-WE) relationship formed a system. This concept is very important in-order to understand Ergonomics.
First let us understand what is a system?
*A system can be defined as an aggregate of interactive components operating together to perform a function. The key words here is aggregate and interactive. Aggregate - loose association of a components that are not necessary homogenous, but nevertheless are brought together to serve a purpose. These components is interactive which means they have a mutual or reciprocal effect, one upon other. Interactive in the sense that they are working in mutual harmony to perform a function. (source: The Worker at Work by T. Morris Fraser)
The harmony of this relationship will keep the equilibrium of this system. This is the MAIN FUNCTION of ERGONOMICS.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
OSHA 1994 (Act 514) in its section 4(c), Object of the Act says:
'To Promote environment for persons at work which is ADAPTED to their physiological and psychological needs'.
The above object, simply means ERGONOMICS. So what is Ergonomics?
Ergonomics, from two words of Greek origin - Ergon which means work and Nomos - Natural laws. Ergonomics simply means FITTING the work environment to the worker capability using scientific approach.
The key words here are: FITTING, WORK ENVIRONMENT, WORKER CAPABILITY and SCIENTIFIC APPROACH.
Fitting is the process of designing and arranging the work environment so that it is suitable to the human capability. This process of fitting the work environment to the worker capability should be based on scientific approach. Therefore Ergonomics is a field which consist of multiple disciplines of knowledge from human anthropometry, physiology to industrial engineering.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Telegraph.co.uk reported today that :
Driving while suffering from flu increases the risk of a road accident, as much as two glasses of whisky, according to a British new study.
Read the detail of the report here.