I’m new to researching ergonomics standards, practices and these forums. I am a Myofascial Therapist and Structural Integrator, and would like to get a sense of the ergonomic community’s feelings about interventions that alter posture and anatomical function as a way of increasing comfort and efficiency when interfacing with systems, and do these somatic interventions get weighted equally with interventions that alter the system being interfaced with?
Any information resources you can point me to? Any thoughts?
Thanks & I appreciate your time,
I am in favor of your approach to treating people. If the workr has an existing claim (worker comp or Disability) then this therapy is well recived. If you are trying to use this an approach as prevention in the workplace I believe you’ll have trouble. This approach is considered a skilled intervention/treatment and most likely would be identified as a trigger for OSHA reportability.
As far as being considered in design, I have not seen any articles about it.
You’ve posed a big question here. I think you’ll find that people who identify strongly with "ergonomics" will say that ergonomics is first and foremost a design science and practice, and that a systems approach to identifying and solving problems at their root cause is most effective. Ergonomics, or human centered design, or human factors engineering, or user experience design, or whatever we might call it, favors design of processes, facilities and equipment to enhance human performance and well being. This perspective is well documented in the ergonomics literature, and among various professional organizations (e.g., International Ergonomics Association, Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics, Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, Ergonomics Society).
You’ll find that a focus on modifying the human to better fit a system is less likely among professional ergonomists. Ergonomists will generally approach a situation with the perspective that people have physical and mental capabilities and limitations, and that a sustainable system should recognize and accomodate those human characteristics. We develop and use data sources that capture those human population variations (e.g, anthropometry data for body size and strength), then design the system to support and enhance human performance in specific tasks and environments.
Peter Budnick, PhD, CPE
I am very familiar with a method of lifting and carrying one to four large plastic bags containing 20-70 pounds of material in a safe and healthy way.
The method opposes industrial and consumer instructions that are very dangerous.
The "how" of human work activity is ergonomics to me as much as the "what".
Your point brings the academic and engineering/design world into direct contact with behaviors While a task may be designed to be done one way (i.e. lift one bag at a time) the reality of the actual worker behavior (lift 3-4 bags at once) negates the good intentions of the design/procedure/etc. My thought is that a better design directs or encourages a better behavior.
Still though, you can choke up on a baseball bat.
Most kids need to be told, and shown.
My personal experience is that the Human Tensegrity system is quite fluid & moldable but requires a responsible engineer (the consciousness living in it) to learn the options for use available to it. Every bone is like the bat Ergohead speaks of, and a good coach can teach you your "choking up" options for using it skillfully, effectively and with comfort. 1/16th of an inch of wiggle @ a facet joint in your spine can translate to inches added to your reach, but you have to learn the feeling of allowing that 1/16th of an inch movement first.
I think that Peter has described ergonomics beautifully and I could not agree with him more. I think that every modality has its strengths and limitations and it is more about recognisiing these and utilising the appropriatte modality to achieve the best outcome. Myofascial techniques and ergonoimcs and many others all have things to offer. The weakness that I have found is more often found in the practitioner and on the limitations that they place on seeing the strenghts and weakeness than in the modality. I recently discussed with an Alexander technique (I personally think Alexander technique is fantastic) practitioner ergonomics and alexander technique. The example they used was they could ensure that a person sat on wooden chair well and in a healthy manner irregardless of the type of chair. For me my perspective was that the chair should allow/encourage/promote the "best posture". I feel that both should be complimentary e.g. the best environment (chair) will enhance outcomes from the treatment modality. Rather than having a person trying to perform their best despite having an environment that creates obstacles.
Sometimes the very adaptable nature of humans is the biggest obstacle to good ergonomic design acceptance. We so easily adapt to poor or even bad designs that, when confronted with a good design, we reject it as uncomfortable or hard to use. As a result, a certain amount of re-training becomes necessary to break bad habits induced by a bad ergonomic design so that the better experience brought on by a good ergonomic design is accepted.
Greetings to all & Happy Thanksgiving to you.
The question asked "do these somatic [therapy & behavior] interventions get weighted equally with interventions that alter the system being interfaced with? ". Here are my thoughts/opinions – "take what you want,,…"
I have had reason to ponder the thoughts expressed in the replies. After reading them again I conclude that no, the subjective, individual does not get "weighted". The system designer (macro ergonomics) would use population based data to develop the system and make design decisions to include some variations as feasible based upon constraints (cost, time, materials, etc). Hopefully the design would guide or encourage better human movements and judgements/decisions and discourage bad movements and poor judgement/decisions.
The interventionist (microergonomics) then has the task to change the individual to the environment, or make small specific changes to the design. You, as the interventionist, would teach/train the person in better movements/judgements/decisions to address requirements and limitations of the design.
In my experience, the first thing everyone (managers, supervisors, engineers, maintenance, case managers, OHN, etc) looks for to be tried – is to change the individual. However, if a number of individuals get hurt, then the deisgn might be altered.
Unfortunately you are correct for the way in which problems get dealt with. It is usually dealt with training etc first as it is a cheap option.
Have a good Christmas
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