Is anyone aware of an existing organization or program that provides ergonomics expertise for needy communities. I think there is a need as many of the solutions (e.g. water purification systems) rely on manual labor and may not have been designed with ergonomics in mind.
Perhaps analagous or in cooperation with Engineers Without Borders http://ewb-usa.org/index.php ?
Rob Tannen, PhD, CPE
You can contact me directly at [email protected]
"Great minds think alike." Each year, my wife and I give to a variety of charities. We’ve donated to Doctors Without Borders in the past, and though it’s a great group doing great things, it is aimed squarely at medicine. As we reviewed our giving for last year, I lamented that I would prefer to donate to "Ergonomists Without Borders." I haven’t dealt with Engineers Without Borders, but I agree they’d be a good place to look to as an example, or as an "incubator" to help our profession develop Ergonomists Without Borders.
Alternatively, the International Ergonomics Association (IEA, http://www.iea.cc) has initiatives aimed at Industrial Developing Countries. Maybe they would have an interest?
Okay, it looks like Rob and I think this might be a good idea. Anyone else? Any way we can get some momentum behind Ergonomists Without Borders?
Peter Budnick, PhD, CPE
I too would be interested in "Ergonomists Without Borders." I have taken some courses in Global Health and have been trying to figure out how to merge this interest with my years of experience in ergonomics. Let me know how I can help or get involved.
Duke University and Health System
Hi Rob & others
I am also unaware of any existing "Ergonomists without Borders" organizations, though I would very much like for there to be one. I have however come across reports of single projects (I recall reading something regarding the ergonomics of children employed in an African cocoa industry, sponsored by a foreign governmental agency, and an Iranian university-sponsored intervention among rug-weavers, for example).
Perhaps a good place to start would be via specific industries or sectors, for example international healthcare organizations or agricultural aid groups. Those are both industries in great need of ergonomics, as we know.
I look forward to hearing more ideas, and perhaps those ideas will lead us on to something operational.
Joan S. Geiger, PT MOccH
Tel Aviv, Israel
As one starting point, I have been in touch with Engineers Without Borders (U.S.A.) – http://www.ewb-usa.org/
to find out if they have any existing projects where they think ergonomic design support might be helpful. I’ll let you know what I hear back.
I also think "Ergonomists Without Borders" is a great idea. I would be interested in being involved. Please keep me in the loop.
I spent 6 weeks in Brazil when I was doing my MASc. specialising in human factors. I was overwhelmed by the huge gap between what I perceived to be "good design" and what was available in the very poor environments, when the first priority is survival (forget about comfort, additional productivity etc.).
Your points are well taken, but I think the idea will require a good dose of KISS (Keep It Simple Simon) because otherwise it’s just way beyond the ressources available.
Of course good ergonomics will improve all sorts of levels, but how to do it when there are NO tools, NO money and most things are strictly done as needed when needed (this is my very limited perspective after having lived 1 week with a family on a farm in the amazon).
I think the idea is WONDERful, but I think maybe the best way to get in there is indeed by going with a more basic need group, like Engineers without borders and ensure those projects involve ergonomics too.
Nancy Black, P.Eng
Faculté d’ingénierie (secteur génie industriel)
Université de Moncton
Moncton, NB CANADA
Tel: (506) 858-4079
I am a UK based Urological Surgeon with 20 years of surgical experience. I believe I have a lot to contribute to Ergonimics in Surgery and Medicine. I would like to be involved. Please keep me updated
FYI, I’ve protected the internet domain name ErgonomistsWithoutBorders.org (and .com, .net, .info) by purchasing them. Once this idea starts getting off the ground, I’ll be happy to transfer them to whatever organization gets formed for this purpose.
Peter Budnick, PhD, CPE
Well done Peter and thank you for getting this process underway.
Until my husband’s massive CVA while we were on holiday in New Zealand last July we were both casual academics contracted each semester to teach Engineering Communication among other topics. Last year the Faculty linked up with “Engineers Without Borders” Australian Division to enable our students to participate in the annual international student project competition to research a potential project on a specific EWB current activity. In first semester our students were encouraged to give attention to ergonomics issues.
I would be happy to contribute to this development which should link happily to IEA objectives.
What great interest! I’d like to pass along to everyone that one, at this time, small non-profit exists that touches on this issue. It is called SynergoArts (SynergoArts.org) and it is dedicated to bringing ergonomic science to artisans, artists and craftspeople throughout the world. We already have our first product – bench for backstrap weavers that gets them off their knees.
I’m sure that the founder and Pres., Karen Piegorsch, would be thrilled to hear from other ergonomists who have an interest in this. I am the VP of this org., just one part of the myriad collection of things I do in the field.
Don Morelli CPE
Hi, I am the President of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) which has 47 countries with Federated Ergonomics Societies as members. I was informed about this discussion by Shann Gibbs and I am delighted to see the level of enthusiasm and interest in this topic. The IEA is very supportive of the work in developing countries and I know that the IEA members from these countries are greatly appreciative of any assistance. Since I was elected 2.5 years ago I have had the privilege to visit 24 countries to represent the IEA and promote ergonomics. When I was in Columbia I was asked about how we can assist indigenous communities in Latin America. This is a good questions and I would appreciate your suggestions.
We have a range of existing outreach programs for developing countries. Recently we have assisted in workshops on ergonomics in mining in Botswana and Chile. We also hosted an meeting on ergonomics in Agriculture in KL, Malaysia. A publication called "Ergonomics Checkpoints in Agriculture" will hopefully be launched at the IEA Congress in Beijing in August.
The IEA has 25 Technical Committees, each covering different areas of the domain. These are all listed on our website http://www.iea.cc. They are open to anyone to join and offer services to research, education and practice.
On the IEA website are details of the "Foundation for Professional Ergonomics" hosted by Hal Hendricks in the USA. This is a list of ergonomists offerring their services to travel and support ergonomics in developing countries. For example one member was on a vacation in Bali and offered to host a workshop for the Indonesian Ergonomics Society. Another has done this in Chile.
We also are looking for access to online journals and conference proceedings for universities from developing countries who can’t afford the subscriptions. We were sending books and collections of journals but the postage costs became prohibitive. We have received many requests for support to attend the IEA Congress in Beijing but our limited funds cannot assist many other than to offer reduced registration fees.
There are many ways we can support developing countries directly or through the IEA and your own Federated Society. Together we can make a difference. I think my time is up.
Best wishes, David CC
David – Thanks so much for your detailed response. I think that answers my question regarding current ergonomic support activities for developing countries. I’d also like to add that I did hear back from Engineers Without Borders about a project that could potentially use ergonomic input. They referred me to a project being done by the UC Santa Barbara chapter who are working on a human powered sorghum grinder for communities in Mali. If anyone is interested in getting in touch with this group (particularly if you are located near Santa Barbara), contact me directly and I will forward the information.
-Rob Tannen, PhD, CPE
I am waiting to see the launching of Ergonomist without boarders
Colombo, Sri Lanka
It is unclear to me who launches "Ergonomics without Borders" . Obviously this requires leadership and structure to sustain a global program. I am happy as President of the International Ergonomics Association to seek interest from the Council to offer this leadership if the forum thinks that this is appropriate. One option could be to relaunch our Foundation for Professional Ergonomics program I described previously as "Ergonomics Without borders" as the objectives seem to be the same. Does anyone know if "…. Without Borders" is a global organization and each profession needs to affiliate and follow Codes of Conduct, etc that is centrally administered? Without this it would seem that anyone could create their own group using the title and the credibility of the whole program could be at risk.
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