Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Remember when we all talked about ergonomics?

More attention being given to ergonomics ...

"Whatever happened to ergonomics?" Florida business consultant Tim Bryce titled an essay he wrote two years ago.

The question still lingers. It's rare to spot one of those odd-looking chairs where you sit and kneel at the same time. And who talks anymore about carpal tunnel syndrome, the scourge of offices in the '80s and '90s?

It hasn't been forgotten, say researchers, business officials and health care professionals.

Companies, particularly large ones, have made strides - not always using the most expensive or highest-tech equipment - to update offices so workers are less likely to contract back or neck injuries. Critics, though, aren't so sure.

"I do think the word is getting out," said James Bliss, an associate professor of psychology who directs the doctoral program in human factors and ergonomics at Old Dominion University. "Most businesses have started to acknowledge the importance of it."

Dan MacLeod, an ergonomic consultant outside New York, said: "Ten years ago, in most of the companies where I worked, I had to explain to employees what ergonomics was. Now when I say I'm the ergonomics guy, they generally know what I'm looking at."

Ergonomics underwent "a long developmental period" and has reached "late adolescence," said Maury Nussbaum, a professor of industrial and systems engineering at Virginia Tech.

"You have a lot of basic research happening at the universities," he said. "That's slowly starting to filter out to applications in the workplace."

Businesspeople point to declines in the incidence of workplace injuries as proof they're serious about ergonomics."    (Continued via PilotOnline)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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