Monday, May 25, 2009

Back pain an issue for nearly all vets

Pain in the back is the vet legacy ...

"Pregnancy testing cows, foot trimming and animal surgery are all back-aching jobs that mean veterinarians are more likely to suffer aches and pains. A study of 867 vets found 96 per cent had musculoskeletal discomfort.

More than two-thirds (67 per cent) say it had affected their daily work and nearly one in five (18 per cent) had taken time off work in the previous year. Trouble spots were the lower back, followed by discomfort in the neck and shoulders and wrists and hands.
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The study by Hawke's Bay District Heath Board health and safety manager Andrew Scuffham is part of a research project for a master of ergonomics degree.

Mr Scuffham sent a questionnaire to 2112 registered vets and received a 41 per cent response rate. Respondents identified a range of activities, such as lifting, surgery and animal examinations, as the cause of their discomfort.

He says epidemiological data also implicates psychosocial issues, such as working at high speed, to tight deadlines, inability to vary pace of work, and organisational culture. “Working out if psychosocial issues are a cause or a consequence of musculoskeletal discomfort will be the topic of further investigations.”

Mr Scuffham, a former health and safety adviser at Massey's Manawatu campus, is being supervised by Professor Stephen Legg from the University's Centre for Ergonomics, Occupational Safety and Health and Professor Elwyn Firth and Professor Mark Stevenson from the Institute of Veterinary, Biological and Animal Sciences.

Professor Legg says that the research, funded by the Department of Labour, paves the way for future initiatives to improve health and safety outcomes for vets. “Studies have shown that dentists and nurses have higher levels of musculoskeletal discomfort than the general population,” he says. “The present study suggests veterinarians have significantly greater problems than members of these professions.”

Solutions such as more training in lifting techniques and posture and better use of adjustable height tables and chairs were suggested by the respondents, but the researchers say such training is often ineffective because people revert to habits. “We need to use what is called ‘participatory ergonomics’, which, in short, means getting veterinarians themselves involved in developing solutions,” says Professor Legg."    (Continued via Scoop)    [Usability Resources].

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

How occupational therapists can help people to get their day-to-day existence back on track - Getting a Job, Career Planning

How Occupational Therapists work to eliminate ergonomic injuries ...

"Recovering addicts, asylum-seekers and the homeless may not be seen as typical clients for occupational therapists, but as the public health agenda continues to expand into new areas, the stereotype of the occupational therapist (OT) teaching basket weaving or flower arranging on a quiet hospital ward couldn't be further from the truth.

Related articles

* Physiotherapy is helping to fight the problem of obesity
* On the big screen: Radiography is getting the respect it deserves

The aim of occupational therapy is to help people of all ages and backgrounds enjoy meaningful and independent lives, regardless of any physical, mental or social problems they may have. Although for many clients this will involve work and career issues, OTs are equally concerned with leisure pursuits and hobbies as well as day-to-day issues such as getting around or even personal care.

As Christine Taylor, occupational therapy lecturer at the University of Plymouth, puts it: "We're often confused with occupational health, but OT is concerned with much more than how people earn a living."

While the profession's role has tended to revolve around the needs of the NHS, social services and the voluntary sector provide new models, says Anne Lawson-Porter, head of education and learning at the College of Occupational Therapists, who believes the scope of the work in terms of clients and settings has never been wider.

"We're an interesting profession because our skills involve not only physiology and psychology, but social anthropology and societal changes too," she says.

"Helping people cope with the after-effects of an accident, a prison sentence, being thrown out of their home or suddenly finding themselves out of work offers practitioners enormous variety in terms of the types of people they treat and where.

"As more OTs choose to work in what we call 'role-emerging areas' such as specialist care homes, the voluntary sector or perhaps in private practice, the NHS may find itself competing for our talent in the future," she adds."    (Continued via The Independent, Virginia Matthews)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Ergonomics For Older Seniors Considered

Creating a new environment as we age ...

"We've all been introduced to the buzz-word of the 90's by now; Ergonomics. And while the business world laughed at first, now they realize that proper ergonomics increase human performance and productivity, while decreasing workplace accidents. Now then, imagine a senior citizen who is well-past their prime and measurable athletic performance years. Ergonomics for seniors becomes serious business to prevent injury and to heal from surgery.

As the body and bones become frail seniors are open for accidents, and many of the slips and falls they have result in huge problems such as broken hips, knee surgeries or wrist injuries. A senior with a wrist injury may stop brushing their teeth, or stop eating certain foods or taking their medicine as they cannot open the jars or bottles. They may stop sending emails and get depressed as they are unable to email family and friends.

This is why it is so important to be aware of these things and act accordingly. They will need shower seats, special handles in the bathroom, bottle and can openers, and a comfortable supportive reading chair. These are critical issues although they seem so obvious to us. Until you've had an injury or been without the use of a limb, you do not understand, but they should not have to go through the pain or hardship because you didn't notice.

Often seniors do not wish to complain or admit they are having problems with things, they want you to not worry and they wish to continue their independence, but please it is up to you to talk with them and ask them about these things. It's amazing what a few simple things can do to improve their quality of life. Please be thinking here."    (Continued via Ezine Articles, Lance Winslow)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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10 Most Common Misconceptions About User Experience Design

Whitney Hess on misconceptions about experience design ...

When I tell people that I am a user experience designer, I usually get a blank stare. I try to follow it up quickly by saying that I make stuff easy and pleasurable to use. That’s the repeatable one-liner, but it’s a gross oversimplification and isn’t doing me any favors.

The term “user experience” or UX has been getting a lot of play, but many businesses are confused about what it actually is and how crucial it is to their success.

I asked some of the most influential and widely respected practitioners in UX what they consider to be the biggest misperceptions of what we do. The result is a top 10 list to debunk the myths. Read it, learn it, live it.

User experience design is NOT…

1. …user interface design

It’s not uncommon to confuse “user experience” with “user interface” — after all it’s a big part of what users interact with while experiencing digital products and services. But the UI is just one piece of the puzzle.

“Interface is a component of user experience, but there’s much more,” says Peter Merholz, founding partner and president of Adaptive Path. Christian Crumlish, curator of the Yahoo! Design Pattern Library, explains that design “isn’t about cosmetics, pixel-pushing, and button placement. It’s holistic and it’s everyone’s concern, not just the realm of ‘artistic’ types.”

Dan Saffer, founder and principal at Kicker Studio, agrees that it’s common for design to be mistaken for being solely about decoration or styling. “I’ve had clients tell me not to worry about what their strategy is,” he says, “because why would a designer care about that? UX is more than just skin deep.”

2. …a step in the process

It is the process. In order to create a great experience for your users, not just design something that we’d like to use, we need to keep listening and iterating. It doesn’t have to be a rigid process, but it does need to exist.

“User experience design isn’t a checkbox,” says Liz Danzico, an independent user experience consultant and chairperson of the new MFA in Interaction Design program at the School of Visual Arts. “You don’t do it and then move on. It needs to be integrated into everything you do.”

Dan Brown, co-founder and principal at EightShapes notes, “Most [clients] expect experience design to be a discrete activity, solving all their problems with a single functional specification or a single research study. It must be an ongoing effort, a process of continually learning about users, responding to their behaviors, and evolving the product or service.”

3. …about technology

User experience isn’t even about technology, says Mario Bourque, manager of information architecture and content management at Trapeze Group. “It’s about how we live. It’s about everything we do; it surrounds us.”

faucetLike a painter uses paint to communicate concepts and emotions, user experience designers use technology to help people accomplish their goals. But the primary objective is to help people, not to make great technology.

“User experience design is not limited to the confines of the computer. It doesn’t even need a screen,” argues Bill DeRouchey, director of interaction design at Ziba Design. “User experience is any interaction with any product, any artifact, any system.”

Really, a user experience designer could help to improve a person’s experience with just about anything — a doorknob, a faucet, a shopping cart. We just don’t typically refer to the people using those things as “users,” but they are."    (Continued via Mashable, Whitney Hess)    [Usability Resources]

Faucet Design - Usability, User Interface Design

Faucet Design

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The High Cost of Ignoring Ergonomic Work Practices

The economic bennefits of ergonomics ...

"As any company manager knows, it is important to weigh the costs of implementing new work programs with the expected long-term financial gains. Items labeled as being ergonomic can put a large dent into budgets. The business of ergonomics has become big business. A fully adjustable ergonomic chair alone can cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Then there is the fear that if one work station is altered, every work station will need to be similarly altered. Or that by bringing up the topic of ergonomics, employees will be made aware of the potential for injuries and start making claims. It is not surprising that many companies do not look towards ergonomic solutions as a means of controlling costs.

On the other hand, not addressing ergonomic issues can be quite costly as well. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the direct and indirect costs of musculoskeletal injuries can total as much as $20 billion dollars a year. A survey conducted by Liberty Mutual in August of 2001 revealed that 95% of respondents felt that workplace safety had a positive impact on a company's financial performance; 86% felt that workplace safety provided a return on investment; and 61% felt that $3 or more is saved for each $1 invested in workplace safety.

So, we know that ergonomic solutions can decrease the incidence and cost of injuries and enhance employee satisfaction. We can further maximize ergonomic investment by looking for no-to-low cost solutions. Here are a few basic ergonomic freebies to get you started.

Some solutions can be as simple as rearranging a work space, moving the work area higher or lower or closer, placing tools within easy reach, and keeping the working space directly in front of our bodies. Avoid excessive reach. Place most frequently used items within an easy reach envelope. Position furniture and work equipment to promote healthy posture.

The more repetitive your job tasks, the more you are at risk. Rotate tasks often. Get up and get moving: get a drink of water, make a phone call; take a walk to the copy or fax machine; walk down the hall to discuss an item with a co-worker rather than using email.

Ensure that tools are in good working order. If using sharp tools, make sure the blades are sharpened to reduce the exertion needed during use. Do not disengage any safety features."    (Continued via Bella Online, Marji Hajic)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Friday, May 15, 2009

At Last: OXO's First Line of Office Products

A whole new line of ergonomic office products will help prevent injury ...

"This week, OXO Good Grips unveiled its new line of office products, and all of them have the polished ergonomics and clever functionality that are the company's calling card. For now, they're available exclusively through Staples.

OXO, armed with clever work by Smart Design, has become a powerhouse in small kitchen tools--the company has gone from a start-up in 1990 to well over $275 million in annual sales today, thanks to so-called "Universal Design," which basically boils down to an extreme focus on ergonomics. The new line has 20 office products in all. Here's our pick, for the eight best:

A folding ruler that expands to 16 inches, but can still be used when it's half-sized: (below)

Scissors with a switch that allows a safe "box cutter setting"--thus eliminating those times when you open your scissors wide and cut your hand, trying to cut open boxes: (below)"    (Continued via Fast Company)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Folding Ruler - Ergonomics

Folding Ruler

Sissors plus Box Cutter - Ergonomics

Sissors plus Box Cutter

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Obama seeking ways to curb repetitive motion injuries

Getting back to a federal ergonomics program ...

"There once were job safety rules that helped keep down the number of ergonomic injuries. They were killed by President Bush and a GOP-run Congress.

Ergonomic injuries, also called musculo-skeletal and repetitive-motion injuries are by far the most common injuries workers get when they go to work. Hundreds of thousands of these injuries happen annually, costing millions of lost workdays.

Exact figures are no longer available because the Bush administration, after trashing the ergonomics rules, trashed separate rules requiring companies to report the number of such ailments.

Examples of ergonomic injuries include the back injuries health care workers suffer after they lift and turn patients, without benefit of mechanical assistance, and carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition of nerve degeneration requiring arm or hand surgery. Carpal tunnel affects categories of workers ranging from typists to meat cutters.

Recently, President Obama recruited Jordan Barab, a long-time occupational safety and health specialist and activist, for the position of acting director of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Barab spoke about ergonomics at a May 5 legislative conference of union nurses in Washington D.C. He assured them that the Obama administration is committed to bringing back regulation in this area.

During the last year of the Clinton administration, after 10 years of lobbying by the labor movement and hard work by people inside and outside the Clinton White House, the Department of Labor issued a rule designed to reduce ergonomic injuries. The very first bill that Bush signed into law, after he was installed in the White House by the Supreme Court, was a law that repealed all the ergonomic injury rules.

“I remember the rules very well,” Barab, who worked in Clinton’s Department of Labor, told the nurses. “I remember nurses testifying, in tears, about ergonomic back injuries that cost them the careers they loved.

“We either have to get the repeal repealed, or go sector by sector to create new ergonomic rules,” he told the nurses. A third alternative, Barab added, “is to sit down with everyone,” including unions and business “to see what will work in the workplace and politically, to get around the repeal law."    (Continued via People's Weekly World, John Wojcik)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

B-12 Deficiency Can Cause Numbness & Tingling in Hands (Among Other Symptoms)

Ergonomics and the role of diet ...

"I'm always interested in causes behind symptoms that often get lumped in under "repetitive stress injuries" (RSI). We blame typing and poor ergonomics for a lot of our woes, but when I was having a lot of trouble with hand pain, it was a matter of changing my diet, not my desk configuration. Of course, it took a couple doctors before someone thought to have me tested for food allergies (first I had to suffer through the here-take-some-drugs-and-wear-wrist-splints phase followed by the let's-sign-you-up-for-expensive-physical-therapy-you-can't-afford phase). That's when I found out I was intolerant to gluten and dairy and that eliminating them helped tremendously.

If you're in the same boat where you've tried a lot of the common fixes for hand/wrist/joint pain etc. and haven't found them all that helpful, it's definitely worth trying to get to the bottom--figuring out what's causing the symptoms rather than just trying to treat them.

I was recently surfing around the web and found a list of the common symptoms of vitamin B12 deficiency. The fact that numbness/tingling in the hands was on the list, of course, caught my eye. Here's a list of some of the typical symptoms:

1. Itchy or tingling tongue. The tongue suddenly itches from time to time without warning. This occurs on the edge of the tongue, along one side or the other or at the tip. Some individuals experience stinging, pain, or tingling instead of itching.

2. White spots in the skin, resulting from melanin becoming absent in the area. These often occur on the outside of the forearm, but may occur in other places. The longer these spots are there, the whiter they get. As time goes by, the spots become very dry and flaky to the extent that small raw spots of skin may be exposed.

3. Sharp stabbing, tingling pain in the palm of one or both hands. This occurs suddenly and for no apparent reason in a spot directly below the ring finger, approximately where the first palm crease is. If B12 deficiency is not treated, a tingling pain may begin to occur along the outside edge of the hand, starting from the wrist. This pain occurs when the wrist is extended."    (Continued via Ergoblog)    [Usability Resources]

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Cell Phone Usage Damages Memory

Those cell phones are bound to get us ...

"A research team from Ben Gurion University in Beer-Sheba, Israel, found that talking on a cellular phone harms the mental abilities of the user. This research may serve as a warning against one of the gadgets most of us use daily.
The influence of cellular phones on brain functions and general health has been widely researched in recent years. Most of the experiments try to understand whether electromagnetic radiation is cancerous or not. Researchers from Ben Gurion University and Soreq Research Center for Nuclear Energy have decided to take a closer look at the effect mobile phones have on people's cognitive functions.

The participants in the experiment were 48 right-handed men. Cell phones were attached to both their ears and the participants were put through several tests which engaged their memory and required the use of both hands simultaneously. In the course of the experiment the subjects were presented with three consecutive squares, each containing a face image in one of eight specific locations. The subjects then had to tell whether a fourth face image presented had appeared among the previous three. If it was, the subject had to press a button with his right hand and if it wasn't, he had to press another button with his left. During the experiment one third of the participants were subjected to a working phone on the right side of their head, one third to a working phone on the left side, and one third to no working phone at all. The subjects had not taken part in phone conversations and did not know which one of the phones (if any) was active during the experiment.

When right-handed subjects were exposed to a cellular phone near the left side of their heads, the resulting effect was greatest. Their reaction time on the task became longer in comparison to those subjects who had a phone working near the left side of their heads and also to those that had no working phone at all. It is notable that the results were more robust during the first ten minutes of the experiment (the first two trials) than the rest of the experiment.

Dr. Ronen Hareuveni, head of the electromagnetic radiation department at Soreq’s research center for nuclear energy, said that while the mobile phones that were used in the experiment were producing maximum electromagnetic radiation, which is not likely to happen for long periods of time in day-to-day life, the results were clear even after a relatively short exposure. The reaction time lengthening found in the experiment was especially significant in subjects who had a working phone close to the left hemisphere of their brain."    (Continued via thefutureofthings)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Phones May Cause Brain Damage - Ergonomics

Phones May Cause Brain Damage

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

5 Scientific Reasons Mom Deserves Mother’s Day

Happy Mother's Day ...

"If you haven’t yet planned the brunch or picked out the flowers or at least mailed the card, then consider what follows the only motivation you should need. In short, mothers have it tough.

Changes in American culture have liberated women in many ways. Mom is now free to do all the chores moms have been doing for generations - such as wiping snot off kids’ noses, cleaning the house and handling all the family’s finances and social plans - and now she can work a day job or feel guilty for not having one, too.

Mom deals with all this, studies show, with less help and as much pain and stress as ever. Consider:

5. Mom Feels More Pain

Any man worth his salt realizes Mom deserves a lifetime of foot rubs for one simple reason: childbirth. She made you. And yeah, it hurt like hell. But that’s not all. Women suffer more pain than men across the board, studies find.

And it’s not just “that time of the month” pain. We’re talking about a lifetime of suffering.

A study out last week found that among people over 65, women suffer 2.5 times more disabilities than men of the same age. Among the most common chronic conditions: painful arthritis.

Even sex, which gloriously led to your conception and which ought to be the ultimate respite, can be painful for women. About 15 percent of women experience recurring genital pain during intercourse. Almost no men do.

4. Mom Gets No Help

In the old days, mothers had tremendous help raising kids and keeping house. It was, literally, a family affair, with grandparents and children working daily, willingly or otherwise, to take the load off women burdened with small children.

Today’s mom has a lot less help with childrearing and housecleaning, a study in 2006 found. Sure, fathers are pitching in, but you know how that goes. “Honey, the game’s on. I’ll finish the vacuuming tomorrow.”

In 1880, 24 percent of mothers lived with a female age 10 or older who didn’t go to school and didn’t work outside the house. By 2000, that number was 5 percent.

3. You Are Mostly Your Mother’s Child

Yeah, sure, your genes are half from Mom, half from Dad. But for some reason, scientists recently learned, Mom’s genes have a greater effect on what you become.

One stark example: While you were in the uterus, if your mother had a very stressful experience, you’ll be at greater risk for anxiety disorders
. And a new study on rats, out last month, indicates that your mother’s diet during pregnancy affected your genes.

More surprising, studies are showing that what your mother ate when she was a child, the toxins she was exposed to, and other experiences before and during pregnancy affect how the genes she passes on to you actually get expressed in your body.

Another study, reported this year in the journal Child Development, shows a profound impact of nurturing by mothers in the early years, too. A child who has a strong relationship with Mom during preschool years tends to form closer friendships in grade school, the research revealed."    (Continued via The Best Article Every day, Robert Roy Britt)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Happy Mother's Day - Ergonomics

Happy Mother's Day

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Friday, May 08, 2009

When will cell phone users learn etiquette?

Cell phone etiquette can save lives ...

"The aeroplane snafu in Mumbai, which could have been easily avoided if the engineer had done his duty rather than chat on his mobile, is a clear reminder for all of us to wake up and do something.

Many years ago, I was supposed to face a job interview by a firebrand writer who had exposed some scams in the past. I called up this gentleman on his mobile and got no response for quite a while. When I met him later and asked him if his mobile had conked off, he grinned and said that I had called him while he had gone out for lunch, deliberately locking the mobile in his office desk because he didn't want to be disturbed when he ate.

This is something that one appreciates a lot, but how many people follow this? Many people are almost wedded to their mobiles, and are always chatting away, with scant regard for etiquette. As the person who interviewed me told me later, there is no club for mobile phone users because you need manners for a club.

Death is in the air

While a lapse of etiquette is something that one can live with, a matter of safety is something that is unpardonable. And this is exactly what happened in Mumbai yesterday, when an engineer, instead of doing some important work himself, delegated it to a subordinate because he was on a mobile call. As a result, it caused damage to the plane's nose.

Fortunately, this happened on the ground, and though there was damage, nobody was injured. But can you imagine a member of the ground staff tightening a bolt while on a mobile, not doing a good job of it, and causing something to come apart while the plane is in the air? Frightening!

Dangerous behaviour

While one hasn't read about such things happening yet there are a lot of dangers associated with driving and talking, something that is unfortunately way too common in India. This is bad because the dangers associated with this are overwhelming.

According to the quarterly journal Human Factors, which is published by the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, cell phone distraction causes 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the United States every year and this is from a study that dates back to 2005."    (Continued via Mid Day, Balaji Narasimhan)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Talking While Driving - Ergonomics

Talking While Driving

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

PDA & Smartphone Ergonomics

Summary of what to do for those sore thumbs ...

"Since their inception, the push has been to make computers smaller, smarter and more portable. Functions that once took banks of computer hardware are now performed on electronic gadgets that fit in the palm of our hand.

1973 heralded the birth of hand held computers with the first programmable calculator. Within 2 years, a primitive and portable computer organizer was developed with a calculator, alarm clock and scheduling feature. The first "palmtop" with DOS was developed in the mid 1980s. John Sculley of Apple Computer officially coined the term PDA (personal digital assistant) in 1992 when he introduced the Apple Newton. The mass market appeal of these small devices was realized with the introduction of the Palm Pilot in 1996. About the same time, the first "smartphone" (a combination of cellular phone and PDA) was developed. The popular BlackBerry was introduced in 1999. Currently, 2.14 billion people worldwide subscribe to mobile phone service (

In a piece of electronic equipment the size of the palm of our hand, we now have the ability to make phone calls, take pictures and videos, access calendars and address books, check email, surf the web, perform office tasks and develop business documents with mobile versions of word processors and spreadsheets, locate areas of interest and avoid traffic jams with GPS, play games, and entertain ourselves with music and video downloads.

The following ergonomic and safety tips will keep you healthy and pain-free when using your handheld device.

"BlackBerry Thumb"

Text-messaging and miniature or keyboard functions can take their toll on the thumbs. "BlackBerry Thumb" is a commonly used term to describe a painful and debilitating tendonitis of the thumb tendons caused by repetitive use.

* Limit your typing time to no more than 10-15 minute sessions.

* Stretch often.
o Turn your palms up.
o Open the thumbs wide as if you are hitch-hiking.
o Using your other hand, gently push the thumb back until you feel a nice stretch.

* Use a portable keyboard attachment when possible.
* If using a stylus, use one with a larger grip handle.
* Support your arms on pillows while typing.
* Hold a pencil and use the eraser to push the keys to give your thumbs a break.
* If your thumbs feel sore, use cold packs after typing. Take a break from using your thumb keyboard. Seek medical attention if the pain does not go away.


It is best not to speak on your cellular phone and drive at the same time. In fact, in most states, it is now against the law. If you must:

* Use a hands-free device.
* Keep conversations short.
* Do not talk while engaging in driving tasks that require additional attention such as merging onto the freeway.
* Be careful not to drift into adjacent lanes.
* Do not engage in distracting or emotional conversations while driving.
* Pull over to take notes or messages; or use an easily accessible recorder programmed into your device.
* Place your cell phone in a stable position so that you are not distracted by it shifting."    (Continued via BellaOnline, Marji Hajic)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Arthritis may be exacerbated by computer use

The effect of ergonomics on arthritis ...

"According to researchers in the United States using a computer can have an impact on those suffering from arthritis.

Even though computers have become increasingly common in daily life, little is known about how their use on a daily basis might affect those with arthritis; it is estimated that as many as 56% percent of the workforce use computers at work and 62% of households own one.

Arthritis is a leading cause of work disability, and those with the disease may have difficulty performing physically demanding jobs, and may opt for jobs that appear less strenuous but require intensive computer use.

Computer use is a known risk factor for pain and musculoskeletal disorders and arthritis sufferers are more at risk because of difficulties performing tasks due to pain, restricted movement, muscle weakness, or fatigue.

A new study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh has examined this topic in people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis (OA) and fibromyalgia (FM).

The study involved 315 arthritis patients who completed a specially-designed survey that contained questions on computer use, discomfort experienced while using a chair, desk, keyboard, mouse and monitor, and problems associated with each piece of equipment.

The results showed that many people with arthritis experience both discomfort and problems that could lead to work limitations: 84% of respondents reported a problem with computer use attributed to their underlying disorder and 77% reported some discomfort related to computer use."    (Continued via    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Bad ergonomics

Touch vs. mouse ...

"Touching a screen all day sounds terrible to me. I'm a trackball and trackpoint guy so my mouse hand stays stationary all day (except typing of course)...and I wouldn't have it any other way. Ergonomics are far more important than looking cool.

A good trackball is far, FAR more accurate that touching a screen anyway so the accuracy argument is garbage. Even a cheap standard mouse is better....

I really detest finger prints and finger smudges on my screen anyway. Maybe I just have especially greasy fingers but I wouldn't want to clean my screen twice a day.

Also, what about modifier keys (ie ctrl+click etc.) or even double click vs single click? I wouldn't want to need to learn some 'secret tap' sequence to do something that a mouse can do better, faster and smarter (or keyboard for that matter).

Maybe when voice recognition gets better and we can eliminate the keyboard altogether. Why would we want THREE input devices (keyboard, mouse and multitouch)?"    (Continued via OSNews, kenji)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Shut up and drive

Cell phones still a big problem ...

"This week Oregon lawmakers are voting on whether or not to ban talking on a handheld cell phone and text messaging while driving. If it passes, we will be the sixth state in the United States to pass such a prohibition. Bluetooth headsets or other hands-free devices would still be legal.

Statistics make it difficult to deny that banning cell phones while driving would save lives.

According to the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, cell phone distraction causes 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the United States every year.

A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Motorists found that motorists who use cell phones while driving are four times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves.

Edgar Snyder and Associates, a law firm representing injured people, reports that studies have found that texting while driving causes a 400 percent increase in time spent with eyes off the road.

Even without statistics, just by scanning the daily news articles, there seems to be a steady increase of car accidents caused by a driver being distracted on a cell phone.

Cell phones aren’t the only things that hamper drivers’ safety. An old coworker of mine likes to read paperback books while driving. I’ve seen people brushing their teeth, opening their car door at lights to spit their paste onto the asphalt. Some drivers are busy fighting with pets or children rather than paying attention to the road. There are myriad other driver distractions. Yet cell phones are being singled out because they are growing increasingly prevalent each day.

Oregon’s economy is currently one of the worst in the United States. Lawmakers should be concentrating on brainstorming new ideas to help guide us out of this recession. Yet, instead, they must deal with passing laws that should be common sense to most citizens.

Many of us drive almost every day. As a result, driving seems as harmless and habitual as taking a shower or riding a bicycle. It’s easy to forget that we are operating dangerous machinery at high speeds that can be fatal to ourselves and to others. It’s our responsibility as drivers to be as safe as possible. There are already too many memorials lining our streets where motorists killed bicyclists or pedestrians.

Law books are becoming cluttered with decrees that should not need to be voted on. Children need to wear helmets when bicycling. People need to wear seatbelts when driving. These laws have saved countless lives since they’ve been enacted. Still, no one should have had to mandate these requirements for us to put our safety first.

The banning of cell phones while driving, if it passes, will not only save our lives and our children’s, but other lives as well.

We as people need to become more responsible for not jeopardizing our own or anyone else’s safety as much as reasonable. If we make the effort ourselves to be more self-managing, perhaps the government wouldn’t need to trifle over micromanaging laws that make them seem like Big Brother.

Instead, they’d have more time to deal with the larger issues at hand that cannot be so easily fixed on an individual level: education, employment, tax relief, homelessness and other topics worthy of lawmaking."    (Continued via Daily Vanguard, Sarah Hutchins)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Apple Option Ouch: Ergonomic Keyboards

Helping yourself when it hits you ...

In my reckless youth, I dismissed ergonomics as a passing fad—a marketing gimmick targeted at discontented office workers eager to milk their employers for every last company-subsidized freebie. But when I hurt my shoulder and any prolonged typing became an excruciating experience, my skepticism turned to curiosity.

To familiarize myself with the basic principles of ergonomics, I flipped open Merriam-Webster, which provides this definition: "an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely." In other words, we function better sitting upright at an expensively customized desk than slouched over a laptop in bed.

Somewhat versed in this dubious-sounding theory, I moved on to practical advice: I asked a friend at Google—that bastion of workplace perks—to send me a complete inventory of his most essential ergonomic tools. "It's all about the keyboard," he told me. I admit I remained unconvinced: Could such a minor office accessory really improve my workday and possibly even halt the aging of my body? As part of my never-ending quest to conquer back pain without relinquishing all contact with computers, I decided to find the best ergonomic keyboard on the market.

I tested six ergonomic keyboards ranging in price from $57 to $299. To ensure my impressions were accurate, I used every keyboard exclusively for at least two weeks, subjecting each one to the thrilling gamut of my daily activities: spooling out interview transcripts, entering numbers onto TurboTax, and just futzing around on the Internet. Each keyboard could score a possible 30 points, with five, 10, or 15 points assigned for the following categories:

- Painkiller (15 points): A well-designed ergonomic keyboard should make the business of typing as efficient and pain-free as possible, which is why, in evaluating each model, I paid careful attention to how my body felt after long sessions at the desk. Did the keyboard force my body into more correct habits? Did my fingers move less; were my shoulders more relaxed? Were my wrists better aligned with my arms?

- Ease of use (10 points): Most ergonomic keyboards require some degree of adaptation—but are these little adjustments worth the hassle? How long does it take to get used to the new style of typing and to master each keyboard's idiosyncrasies? Are the function keys (Ctrl/Alt/Shift and so forth) logically placed?"    (Continued via Usability News, Laura Moser)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Friday, May 01, 2009

Tied to your keyboard? Look after your hands.

Hand injuries when typing ...

"Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a collective term given to painful conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis.

These are frequently caused or aggravated by repetitive movements such as those made by musicians, sports professionals and, increasingly, computer users.

Last week, I covered some of the early warning signs to look out for: usually a pain, numbness or stiffness in a joint or muscle area.

To avoid RSI-related pain while using your computer, pay attention to the comfort of your arms, wrists, shoulders, back and neck, and take regular rest breaks. These aid recovery and will help you remain alert when you focus on work.

Software can help you take regular breaks by displaying a pop-up reminder on your screen."    (Continued via IOL Technology, Andrew Parker)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

No to Drugs - Pain Relief Tips in a Techie World

Mor tips on being comfortable while typing ...

"Have you heard of Repetitive Strain Injuries or RSI? If you have experienced wrist pain, shoulder pain, neck pain or back pain due to repetitive tasks, more likely you had an episode of RSI.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a repetitive strain injury among techies has become a byword for wrist pain or numbness of the hand. Repetitive tasks using keyboard and mouse that are not ergonomically designed to support the wrist or hand can damage the median nerve that connects the hand to the forearm. This is often accompanied by pain.

How can this be prevented? What can deliver permanent stress relief? Here are some tips:

1. Go Ergonomics!

Choose an Ergonomic Keyboard, Mouse and other Ergonomic Accessories.

Repetitive Strain Injuries are common among those who perform repetitive tasks using equipments that are not designed for such tasks, such as ordinary keyboards that do not cushion wrists or hands for long hours of work, including office desks and chairs that do not provide adequate lumbar support.

2. Maintain a Peaceful Work Environment.

Your work environment can affect your performance as well. Non-conducive work environment, such as noisy or cramped work spaces can trigger stress. Long exposure to this type of environment and office equipments that are not ergonomically-designed to fit the worker to his work produce strain on both body and mind, which over a period of time manifests into aches or pain that the worker may not easily comprehend. Left undiagnosed, RSI can cause downtimes and in an economy too volatile, no employee can afford to lose a job and employers would find it more expensive to train a new one.

3. Go Ergonomics (all the way!).

The science of Ergonomics introduces the importance of "fitting the tool to the worker."

There are many resources online that support the importance of providing employees with ergonomically-designed office equipments. Most employers who have read about ergonomics and what it can do to prevent RSI realized that cutting corners to beat the economic crisis should be done somewhere else and not on office tools that can prevent repetitive strain injuries.

It would prove mutually beneficial for both employers and their employees to use ergonomic office equipments rather than utilize those that may be cheaper at the onset, but would later prove more expensive due to lost hours on the job. Optimum performance at work can be achieved by eliminating pain and injuries that emanate from one-size-fits-all office equipments.

Are you experiencing pain on your wrist or neck? If yes, you could be suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome, which is classified as a repetitive strain injury. Do something about it. Seek medical attention first as there can be underlying causes that should be managed clinically. However, when symptoms recur, try to look into the realm of ergonomics. The result might just surprise you!"    (Continued via Ezine Articles, Christiene Socorro Clarin Villanueva)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

IPAF Opens Competition for Best Women's Fall Harness Design

Work harness to assist worker with ergonomic improvement ...

"A trade association based in the United Kingdom announced the start of a new competition on Friday to find the best new design for a fall harness sized for female workers. In its announcement, the International Powered Access Foundation said a "radical re-examination of harnesses used by female operators of boom-type mobile elevating work platforms" is needed.

"Research suggests that MEWPs are increasingly used by women, particularly in the non-construction sector, which now accounts for more than 40 percent of European MEWP rental activity," said Tim Whiteman, IPAF's managing director. "However, women operators regularly complain that the design of traditional harnesses make[s] them uncomfortable and could cause serious pain and damage to breast tissue in the event of a catapulting incident."

IPAF recommends that operators of such platforms wear full-body harnesses and a short adjustable lanyard to prevent possible ejection from the basket. The group's announcement said IPAF is determined to make the needed PPE both comfortable and affordable for women.

"Harnesses should be designed to be as comfortable as possible for all users. MEWPs are the safest way to perform temporary work at height, but without appropriate harnesses, women expose themselves to unnecessary risk," Whiteman said.

Fall harness sizing is a topic that has been studied for some time, including in a study of 108 men and 108 women that was reported in a paper published in June 2007 in Human Factors, a journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society. The authors -- human factors/ergonomics researchers from NIOSH, Total Contact Inc., and the University of Michigan -- concluded at least 24 percent of men and 31 percent of women would not be able to find a well-fitting harness. They recommended an alternative model that successfully classified 96-100 percent of tested participants to their best fit size for two harness types."    (Continued via Occupational Health & Safety)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Call Center Ergonomics: Sit-to-Stand Workstations

Moving up and down for ergonomic effectiveness ...

"Who hasn’t at least at one time thought, “I can’t stand to sit at my desk any longer”? Call center employees spend the majority of the day sitting at their computer. A fresh look at Sit-to-Stand workstations provides a unique twist on the benefits of call center ergonomics for employees. This article discusses how frequent position changes can help to prevent work-related repetitive stress injuries and how to incorporate ergonomics into workstations.

To back up a little, what does ergonomics really mean? Essentially, ergonomics is designing the workplace to maximize productivity by reducing user fatigue and discomfort. Relative to a call center, ergonomics means designing computer workstations that allow employees to be comfortable, and thus productive, while spending the majority of the day at their computer. Since people vary greatly in size, and spend most of their day in a stationary sitting position, incorporating ergonomics into workstations that accommodate various sizes of employees can be a difficult task.

Previous thought on proper ergonomic positioning was that a static sitting position with the body in 90 degree angles was best. New studies show that any fixed position will increase muscle fatigue, and that one key component of proper ergonomics is movement. Some examples of healthy movements are adjusting a chair or backrest, stretching fingers, hands, arms, and torso, looking away from the monitor, periodically standing up to walk around for a few minutes, and switching between a sitting and standing position. Movements such as these promote circulation and reduce muscle fatigue. Frequent position changes can help to prevent work-related, repetitive stress injuries. The most ergonomically correct workstations are easy to adjust, and encourage individuals to change positions frequently.

So what is the easiest way to provide an ergonomic workstation solution? The best way to provide the most varied amount of position changes is with an adjustable height workstation that includes a monitor arm and keyboard mechanism. There is some misconceptions that the only way to provide an adjustable height workstation is to have the entire workstation move up and down with either a crank or push button power mechanism.

There are several problems with this solution. The first problem is that it is costly to have an entire workstation move up and down. Powered workstations are convenient, but also add significant cost on a per station basis. Second, it can be time consuming and difficult to adjust the height of a workstation, which means that the majority of people will not take the time to adjust it. Third, the entire worksurface having height adjustability by moving up and down in a singular motion is not necessarily the most ergonomic solution since the other components of the station may not have the capability of being adjusted independently of one another.

However, with the correct tools, standing is as simple as sitting. The easiest way to create workstations that transition from standing to sitting is to use a keyboard tray and monitor arm with enough adjustment to be used while in a sitting or standing position. This set-up, such as the one shown here, can accommodate 95 percent of the population."    (Continued via, Jennifer Way)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Sit and Stand Station - Ergonomics

Sit and Stand Station

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Teams Are Not Innovative When Under Constant Time Pressure

Time pressure hurts team performance in design work ...

"Consumer product design expert Ari Putkonen of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Oulu, Finland, explains that conventionally approaches to project planning can fail because they do not take into account changes in efficiency and innovation of individual design team members throughout a project.

Putkonen has simulated and predicted the dynamic effects of mental workload caused by time pressure on design work. He has taken project management, work ergonomics and studies about occupational health as the framework for his study and found that time pressure and mental workload affect the overall performance, quality and innovativeness of design work. This ultimately affects the lead time of the entire project.

At first, Putkonen explains, mental workload, time pressure, and deadlines can have a positive effect on productivity. This is the conventional wisdom encapsulated in the phrase: "I work best under pressure" often uttered by creative individuals and members of terms working in design and related areas where timing is often critical to success. However, this benefit usually only has a positive impact in the short term, Putkonen's study shows.

There are, he has demonstrated potentially negative effects in the long term because time pressure eventually leads to delayed mental fatigue, which affects quality and productivity detrimentally in the long term. Moreover, he says, mental fatigue decreases work engagement, which in turn reduces the innovativeness of a design group.

The failure to recognise these effects, the early burst of efficiency and the smouldering mental fatigue, give rise to unrealistic predictions about human resource needs. Such effects can lead managers and team leaders to make over-optimistic predictions about completion times and so reduce team morale when those deadlines are not met."    (Continued via ScienceDaily, International Journal of Innovation and Learning)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Working well under pressure

The effects of time pressure on design work ...

"Many people work better under a tight deadline, but a new study published in the International Journal of Innovation and Learning, suggest that it is a mistake to assume that a team can work effectively under constant time pressure and remain engaged and innovative with the work.

Consumer product design expert Ari Putkonen of the Department of Industrial Engineering and Management at the University of Oulu, Finland, explains that conventionally approaches to project planning can fail because they do not take into account changes in efficiency and innovation of individual design team members throughout a project.

Putkonen has simulated and predicted the dynamic effects of mental workload caused by time pressure on design work. He has taken project management, work ergonomics and studies about occupational health as the framework for his study and found that time pressure and mental workload affect the overall performance, quality and innovativeness of design work. This ultimately affects the lead time of the entire project.

At first, Putkonen explains, mental workload, time pressure, and deadlines can have a positive effect on productivity. This is the conventional wisdom encapsulated in the phrase: "I work best under pressure" often uttered by creative individuals and members of terms working in design and related areas where timing is often critical to success. However, this benefit usually only has a positive impact in the short term, Putkonen's study shows.

There are, he has demonstrated potentially negative effects in the long term because time pressure eventually leads to delayed mental fatigue, which affects quality and productivity detrimentally in the long term. Moreover, he says, mental fatigue decreases work engagement, which in turn reduces the innovativeness of a design group.

The failure to recognise these effects, the early burst of efficiency and the smouldering mental fatigue, give rise to unrealistic predictions about human resource needs. Such effects can lead managers and team leaders to make over-optimistic predictions about completion times and so reduce team morale when those deadlines are not met."    (Continued via PhysOrg)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Friday, April 24, 2009

10 Ergonomic Products for your office

Some nice ergonomic products for the office ...

"Like most people who sit at a desk with a computer all day, you've probably got a sore back, throbbing knees, aching wrists, and eyestrain. Sound about right? Then you need to familiarize yourself with ergonomics. defines ergonomics as the act of "designing work environments for maximizing safety and efficiency." Ergonomics is about transforming your lifestyle and workspace into a more natural and comfortable one; in so doing, you'll achieve greater efficiency and productivity at your job.

According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) at the United States Department of Labor, you should first set up your computer workstation in "neutral body positioning." That involves ensuring that your joints are naturally aligned with your workstation to reduce stress and strain on the muscles. Next, you'll want to invest in some ergonomically friendly products. They don't always come cheap, but in the long run you'll notice and appreciate the difference in comfort level. Don't know where to start looking? We've narrowed the ergonomic field down to footrests, backrests, keyboards, mice, and screen stands that will help bring comfort to your work day.

Here are some of the products featured in our "10 Ergonomic Products for Your Office" slideshow:

Kinesis Freestyle Solo Keyboard
When it comes to keyboards, you never want to use those plastic lifts underneath, which cause your hands to type in an unnatural fashion and reduce blood circulation through your wrist and hands. Rather, your hands and wrists should remain in a straight line with your forearms while typing. This can be achieved easily with the Kinesis Freestyle Solo Keyboard ($99 to $139 direct), which was designed specifically for the Mac. You can remove the Pivot Tether from the keyboard so that the left- and right-hand sides can be separated, offering more comfort. It has a zero-degree slope, which minimizes the height of the keyboard and reduces wrist extension. Double-wide delete and escape keys are easier for your fingers to press."    (Continued via PC Magazine)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Ergotron Neo-Flex Notebook Lift Stand - Ergonomics

Ergotron Neo-Flex Notebook Lift Stand

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Study: Drivers at risk behind wheel

Avoiding MSD in the trucking industry ...

"A significant percentage of risk for truck drivers comes from the physical toll of sitting in and operating the vehicle, according to a recent Atlas Ergonomics study that shows long hours behind the wheel put certain drivers at especially high risk of developing musculoskeletal injuries.

Of all workers, truck drivers lose the most work days per musculoskeletal disorder incident, Atlas says; this lost time can have a devastating effect on the income of individual drivers, as well as their health, and on their employers’ bottom line. Fortunately, as the Atlas study shows, drivers at highest risk can be identified and protected, simply and cost-efficiently.

As part of its ongoing work with transportation companies, Atlas regularly surveys drivers on their job routines, task characteristics, physical environment, physical characteristics and discomfort. Atlas says it recently pooled and analyzed more than 28,000 of these surveys in an effort to pinpoint specific risk factors.

Atlas says the analysis shows clear relationships between injury risk and the physical characteristics of both the driver and the cab; for example, drivers taller than 6’3’’ and shorter than 5’7” have the highest levels of physical discomfort. According to Atlas, the analysis also reviewed relationships between drivers’ discomfort and their age, seniority, weight and gender — with results that sometimes were surprising.

Trends in the data provide valuable insight into reducing ergonomics risk for commercial drivers, says James Landsman, president of Grand Haven, Mich.-based Atlas. “Fortunately, as our historical data and work in transportation have shown, driver risk can be measurably reduced through simple low-cost adjustments to the cab and the drivers’ routines,” Landsman says. “The data show that sound ergonomics can have a direct, significant impact on trucking companies’ financial performance — which executives may find particularly encouraging in this difficult economy.”

Atlas says that due to the breadth of information covered, it is releasing the results of this study in two separate papers. The first, “Transportation Ergonomics: Relationship between Demographics and Discomfort in the Trucking Industry,” highlights the relationship between employee demographics and work-related discomfort."    (Continued via eTrucker, eTrucker Staff)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Crocs prepares the athlete in you with Crocs Prepair

Ergonomic shoes Dubai style ...

"Crocs, Inc. is introducing the all-new Crocs Prepair tm footwear for athletes and anyone pursuing an active lifestyle. Crocs Prepair™ is specifically embedded with nano-silver and ergonomically constructed to reduce muscle fatigue and aids the body in recovering between athletic activities.

Taking recovery seriously
Competitive sports usually consist of three primary stages: preparation, competition and recovery. However, the vast majority of people spend more time in the first two stages but leaving insufficient time and effort for recovery. This contrasts with professional athletes who know the importance of recovery to prevent catabolic muscle breakdown.

Crocs Prepairtm and Ergonomics
Crocs Prepair tm is designed to assist in the repair and recovery process after strenuous sports activities, with nano-silver (Ag) impregnated in Crocs’ unique patented closed cell resin - Croslite tm.

US Ergonomics study states that Crocs Prepair tm footwear helps to reduce muscular effort up to 24.6%and reduces peak pressure by 50.2% while walking. Based on the results of laboratory and extended wear tests, researchers found that Crocs Prepair tm shoes, compared to competing products under the same test conditions, can help in reducing peak pressure and can evenly distribute pressure across the entire foot, therefore providing relief for fatigue.

The ergonomic design allows the foot to assume its natural form, also aids blood flow and reduce muscular effort during standing and walking, especially useful for athletes and sports enthusiasts during recovery, and even for those with weakened musculature (such as the elderly).

Based on the positive test performance
, the Crocs Prepair tm collection has received the US Ergonomics’ Certifications for Performance and Ergonomics."    (Continued via Eye of Dubai News)    [Ergonomics Resources]

Crocs Ergonomic Shoes - Ergonomics

Crocs Ergonomic Shoes

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