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  • #36458

    lhezlie
    Participant

    Hi,

    I’m looking for a thesis topic in ergonomics and I haven’t found an interesting topic yet and i’m already running out of time. I’m taking my masters degree and as of now i haven’t progress yet since i have no work experience, i took mg masters after i graduate. Please please help!

    #40501

    dtriggs
    Participant

    The field of ergonomics is very vast and multifaceted.  In choosing a thesis topic, you should select an area of study that interests you, that you would like to gain more knowledge about and a topic that would benefit the ergonomics discipline.  Good Luck.

    #40506

    Sanders
    Participant

    Hi Leslie-

    I teach ergonomics to occupational therapy students and find that they come up with very creative and interesting projects. There are many professions whose musculoskeletal discomfort has not been thoroughly investigated or analyzed. Thus, you may consider surveying a particular profession such as hairdressers, jewelry makers, bank tellers or even daycare workers- all of whom have risks for MSDs.  Another idea may be to design a prevention program for a particular profession such as cake decorators- that would be fun!

    Good luck!

    Marcy Sanders

     

    #40517

    [private user]
    Participant

    I think Marcy has some interesting suggestions there!  I am an Ergonomist and I make jewellery in my spare time.  In my jewellery classes, we sit at very traditional work benches and I have often thought that the postures that I and other people seem to adopt when sawing, filing and soldering are not great.  I think it would be a really interesting project as I am not aware of any work that has been done in this area and I suspect that the workbenches have not changed in a long long time!

    #41018

    lhezlie
    Participant

    thanks for all the help! actually I already came up with a thesis topic, its about the vibration effects to spinal columns to bulldozer drivers.

    #41020

    dlmorelliCPE
    Participant

    Leslian,

     

    Congratulations on picking a thesis topic that can embrace the larger aspects of ergonomics.   All too many people think ergonomics is only about injuries or discomfort.  In studying heavy equipment operators, who will have the opportunity to investigate the effects of vibration on bone density (studies of this go back to the 1950’s from the old Soviet Union)  along with spinal compression, disruption of blood flow to soft tissue as well as any influence on the nutrition of the intervetrebral discs.

    Have fun with your investigations and don’t  prejudge any results until you have fully analyzed the data.

     

     

     

    Don Morelli CPE

    [email protected]

    #41021

    admin
    Keymaster

    Leslian,

    Here is a list i saved a few years ago;  UNANSWERED RESEARCH QUESTIONS

      

    Some UnansweredQuestions on the Ergoweb Discussion Forum

    2.Do we have a natural tendency to turn to the right or left?; <http://forum.ergoweb.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=924;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;forum_view=forum_view_collapsed;;page=unread#unread>

    3.      Should teachers encourage children to fidget?;<http://forum.ergoweb.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=1464;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;forum_view=forum_view_collapsed;;page=unread#unread>

    5.Is there really a participatory process for town planning?; <http://forum.ergoweb.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=2091;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;forum_view=forum_view_collapsed;;page=unread#unread>

     

    (a) Unanswered Questions on the UK JCIS Ergonomics Mailbase

    9.      The prevalence of fractures that are unreported (or not diagnosed) and presumed to heal without treatment;<http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A2=ind0508&L=ergonomics&T=0&F=&S=&X=6F685F37620549CCEE&Y=david.mcfarlane%40workcover.nsw.gov.au&P=54>

    11.     Does anyone have any data on the slip resistance of floor surface materials on the basis of ramp tests and surface roughness?;<http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A2=ind0509&L=ergonomics&T=0&F=&S=&X=40E4DB478FC54231FA&Y=david.mcfarlane%40workcover.nsw.gov.au&P=376>

    12.     Is stress really the major factor for coronary heart disease – or is it poor diet?; <http://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/cgi-bin/webadmin?A2=ind0509&L=ergonomics&T=0&F=&S=&X=40E4DB478FC54231FA&Y=david.mcfarlane%40workcover.nsw.gov.au&P=200>

     

    Some more Unanswered Questions for people looking for PhD topics

     

    If anyone out there is still hoping to find an interesting PhD topic here is my latest update on possible topics;

     

     

    (a) Here are some past Ausergo messages that might suggest topics for future research;

     

    ·                     The effectiveness of Therapeutic Spinal Manipulation for LBP 

    ·                      Are we advocating exercises designed to strengthen muscles or increase their endurance these days?

    ·                      The use of EMGs assessing the Efficacy of Rehabilitation

    ·                     Policies on Extreme Heat Indoors

    ·                      Emergency Planning for Bushfires

    ·                     The pulsatile blood pressure and heat stress

    ·                     Forklift Backup Alarms

    ·                     Laughter and the treatment of stress

    ·                     The Laptop Frown

    ·                     Can natural fidgeting help prevent overuse injuries?

     

    According to Jemmett (2001) Low Back Pain (LBP) patients who have been treated with the Australian approach to Therapeutic Spinal Manipulation (TSM) are 12 times less likely to experience a recurrence of back pain in the year following treatment than patients who have been treated by more traditional methods. His comment appears to be based on an article published in Spine in 2001 (Hides, Jull and Richardson, 2001) and similar research that has been done elsewhere.

    Does anyone have any more recent references on the effectiveness of the Therapeutic Spinal Manipulation for treating LBP?

     References

    Rick Jemmett, (2003), “Spinal Stabilization: The New Science of Back Pain”

    Rev. Edition, (Novont Health Publishing, Halifax), ISBN: 0-9688715-1-8, pp 41-42.

    Hides J, Jull G and Richardson C., (2001), "Long-term effects of specific stabilizing exercises for first-episode low back pain." Spine. 2001 Jun 1;26 (11):E243-8. this abstract for this paper can be found on the web at; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=11389408&itool=iconabstr&query_hl=6

     

    Are we advocating exercises designed to strengthen muscles or increase their endurance these days?

    Are those of who “prescribe” exercises for breaks and rehab advocating exercises designed to strengthen muscles or increase their endurance these days?

    I recently read some disturbing comments on this topic in McGill’s book “Low back disorders” (McGill, 2002).  McGill has questioned the effectiveness of many exercises for back injury rehabilitation and/or back injury prevention (McGill, 2002, p 4). According to McGill neither strengthening back muscles nor increasing the back’s range of movement (ROM) help to prevent back injuries. Hence workers need not be given exercise programs that are designed to turn them into athletes. By contrast, exercises that build up the endurance of the back muscles are helpful.

    Worse still, he says that many strengthening exercises (such as sit-ups) are risky because they impose physical stresses that exceed the tolerance of compromised body tissues (McGill, 2002, p 104).  Indeed some (such as trunk extension exercises) even impose stresses that are excessive for healthy bodies such compression of the lower spine that exceeds 3300 Newtons (McGill, 2002, p 107).   

    Reference

    S. McGill, (2002),"Low back disorders. Evidence based prevention and rehabilitation", (Human Kinetics, Leeds).

    Here is a question for all of you who work in rehab. In rehabilitation assessments electromyography procedures (commonly known as EMGs) seem to be mainly used for diagnosis (usually to determine if a person has nerve or muscle damage due to a workplace injury). A few years ago there was some research that suggested that a surface electromyogram for back muscle endurance is also useful for assessing the efficacy of patient rehabilitation (Koumantakis et al, 2001).

    Is the use of EMGs for assessing the status of rehabilitation patient becoming commonplace these days or do patient assessments still rely on more traditional criteria?

    Reference

    G. Koumantakis, F. Arnall, R. Cooper, J. Oldham, (2001), "Paraspinal muscle EMG fatigue testing with two methods in healthy volunteers. Reliability in the context of clinical applications", Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2001 Mar;16 (3):263-6.

     

    Talking of heat waves, has anyone else come across instances of workers who have continued to work over the weekend in buildings where the air conditioning is turned off at the weekend? If anyone has been able to look into such instances, I would be very interested to know what the temperatures got to in the recent hot weekends in Sydney and Melbourne. I have heard undocumented reports of people working in temperatures approaching 50 Celsius (needless to say they were scantily clad or even in swim-wear!).

    I do have a little anecdotal information. I stayed home on a day when the outdoor temperature was about 44 Celsius. In my flat (which is a street-level flat) the temperature did not rise over 29 C but some of my neighbours on the top floor mentioned that their indoor temperature rose to about 50 C. Does anyone have any data on the differences heat levels in buildings without air conditioning between the upper floors and lower floors?

    Just by the by, I don’t really follow tennis but I couldn’t help hearing about the hoo-ha concerning the Extreme Heat Policy at the Australian Open lately. I am a little mystified. The policy must be either highly complex or it must vary from time to time. Does air-conditioning come on when the roof closes or does that merely keep the direct sun off the players? Does anyone know if it is for the players or the spectators? If is for the latter why don’t they simply monitor their health during the matches? Have they taken any steps to determine whether their heart rate return to the resting level before they return to play (and if not, have they extended the breaks until they do)? Can anyone enlighten me?

    Thanks for all the feedback on "fire plans" for bushfires! I have been told (by private messages) that the Victorian CFA provides excellent advice for residents on preparing their own "fire plans". 

    However, I have been informed that it does not publish pro-forma residential bushfire emergency plans. On the basis of the messages I have received it doesn’t sound as if any of the other States or Territories do that either. Could this be due to their lawyers’ advice concerning their liability or is it because they wish to ensure that residents have ownership of the plans that they have themselves prepared?

    Judging by the news stories I have been hearing of late (mainly from Victoria) residents are advised to stay in their homes if they are in township that is protected by a fire-break but if they do not live in a safe haven of this type they must be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and drive to a safe place if they can do so in time (i.e. provided they can do so before the fire-front is in danger of cutting the road and/or the smoke levels make navigation impossible). Is my impression correct? Has anyone got any insights into the factors that might affect the choice of these options when drawing up "fire plans"?

     

     

    Does anyone have any model "Fire plans" for workplaces at risk from bushfires?

    We keep getting told that it is now the time to prepare "Fire Plans"; now of all times, when heat waves and firestorms are already upon us in so many places. For example Aunty BBC provides this story;

    " The time is now to prepare" at  http://www.abc.net.au/gippsland/stories/s962557.htm

    Householders are told to "Plan to Get Out Alive" – see; http://www.nt.gov.au/pfes/police/community/neighbourhoodwatch/fire.html

    But what about workplaces?

    I would like to hope that workplaces prone to bushfires had already prepared their fireplans well in advance. One would imagine that rural industries ought to be able to put generic "fire plans" out for local modification.

    Can anyone provide any examples of "Fire plans" for workplaces at risk from bushfires?

    Emergency Planning for Bushfires in Vic and the ACT

    Thanks for the private messages. I have received some interesting responses – I am starting to get the impression that there must be some sort of conspiracy of silence relating to bushfire investigations!

    For instance, I am told that Victoria has different rules to NSW and the ACT regarding residents in homes during bushfires. The Vic CFA allows residents stay to defend their homes, provided they are physically and mentally capable of doing so and are suitably prepared.  (I am told that in Vic the police cannot instruct you to leave a property you own in the event of bushfire.)  Very few homes are lost where the residents stay to defend.

    During the ACT bushfires, the police ordered residents to evacuate (though quite a few residents sneaked back to defend their homes – and did so successfully).  Apparently most of the Canberra homes that were destroyed were;

    (a) unoccupied due to police evacuation orders and

    (b) had plastic natural gas pipes connected  to gas meters located under the eaves. 

    It seems that flying embers can melt a plastic gas pipe where it comes up out of the ground and create an enormous incendiary flare! 

    Has anyone researched this area?

    The pulsatile blood pressure and heat stress

    The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute has discovered that after the age of 30 our blood vessels start to lose elasticity and become stiff. A Sydney research team has invented a new wristband instrument that can measure pulsatile pressure in the circulatory system. Apparently this data (when combined with blood pressure results) can be used to assess the risk of strokes (and other health problems such as kidney failure) – see link below.

    Is anyone using a pulsatile pressure wristband instrument to assess the risk of heat stress in older workers (i.e. workers who are more than 30 years old!)?

     

     

    Forklift Backup Alarms

    I have just read an article on "Getting the Most Out of Forklift Backup Alarms" that claims that over twenty lives could be saved every year in the US (and most of the 7,000 annual injuries in forklift/ pedestrian accidents could also be prevented if forklift alarm technology could be prevented) if administrative codes were used to force design change (instead of leaving the design of the alarms under the control of manufacturers and their dealers as at present): see;

    http://www.safety-engineer.com/forkliftalarm.htm

    This seems to be an emerging industrial issue over here – see for instance these media stories;

     "Toddler dies after being run over by bobcat – Orangeville"

    A two-year-old boy has died from injuries suffered when he was run over by a bobcat at Orangeville on Sydney’s outskirts … the child’s father had been working a driveway at a local property when he reversed over the toddler, unaware of his presence behind the machine.

    Link for Toddler dies after being run over by bobcat;

    http://www.police.nsw.gov.au/news/recent_media_unit_information?sq_remote_page_action=fetch_url&sq_remote_page_url=http%3A%2F%2Fcustomscripts.police.nsw.gov.au%2Fnews%2Fdetails_media.php%3FMediaID%3D5165

     "$25,000 fine for forklift accident"

    A truck driver was struck by a reversing forklift at its warehouse. he was walking to his truck when a forklift loading pallets on to the vehicle reversed and struck him from behind at a warehouse on January 21 last year .. the company had since vacated the premises since the accident and spent millions on a purpose-built new building.

    Link for $25,000 fine for forklift accident;

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,11555054%255E1702,00.html 

    Does anyone know if the "beeps" are usually loud enough to be heard above background noise or whether the employers or drivers ever disable them if they find their loudness (and/or shrillness) irritating?

     

    What is the point of providing buildings with revolving doors?

    Automatic (powered) revolving doors often cause quite needless accidents.Revolving doors tend to cause the elderly and infirm (especially those using walking aids) to have accidents (mainly falls due to contact with one of the revolving door leaves).They can also injure unaccompanied children.

    Worse still they cause indoor air problems (Clark, 2003) if they are near a busy street becauseair contaminants tend to gets sucked into a building because of the suction from revolving doors (engineers call this a “stack effect”).

    They do not seem to have any advantages that I can think of (other than being an architectural feature). What is the point of them? I reckon that they are another thing we could add to the list of “things that need to be un-invented”!

     

    J. Clark, (2003), “Where the indoors meets the outdoors – Vestibules: What We Need To Know”, Engineered Systems, Nov, 2003.

     

    Research at the Indiana State University School of Nursing (by Bennett et al, 2003) indicates that laughter may reduce stress and increase disease resistance (particularly for persons with cancer and HIV disease) by improving the activity of the "NK cells".

    Moreover research at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine (by Bennett et al, 2003)

    has shown that mirthful laughter might be able to reverse the effects of the classical stress hormones (by reducing the serum levels of cortisol, dopac, epinephrine, and growth hormone).

    Has anyone done any research on the use of humour during rest breaks to treat stress for keyboard workers? If anyone is looking for an amusing website for such research, I have found one that might be useful. It is "The Laughing Policeman" – see; http://72.14.203.104/search?q=cache:wXzDTRux4V8J:www.funnyfair.com/policemanfl.htm++%22laughing+policeman%22&hl=en&lr=lang_en

     

     References

    M. Bennett, J. Zeller, L Rosenberg, J McCann, (2003), "The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell activity", Altern Ther Health Med. 2003 Mar-Apr; 9(2):38-45.

    The abstract for this journal paper is on the web at;

    The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell

     

    L. Berk, S. Tan, W. Fry, B. Napier, J. Lee, R. Hubbard, J. Lewis, W. Eby, (1989),

    "Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful laughter", Am J Med Sci. 1989 Dec;298(6):390-6.

    The abstract for this journal paper is on the web at;

    Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful laughter.

     

    The Laptop Frown

    I have noticed that when people are using laptops on trains or buses they tend to frown. Worse still they often have persistent frown-lines (wrinkles) between their eyebrows even after closing the laptop (and I am talking about fairly young people here not grumpy middle-aged people like me!). Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?

    I notice that people with very bad eyesight often exhibit a similar frown when they are reading.  Could it be due to the eye/screen distance or is it due to poor legibility caused by excessive light falling on the screen?

    I wonder if plastic surgeons are making a fortune out of cosmetic surgery for young laptop users.

    Can natural fidgeting help prevent overuse injuries?

     

    If it does the current practice of punishing school children for fidgeting might be unwise.

     

    Doug Pringle at Massey University has pointed out that it is probably unwise of adults to condemn children for fidgeting since their frequent position changes are a natural behaviour (and hence likely to be beneficial). See “Occupational Overuse Syndrome (OOS). How to avoid (or Overcome) it while Studying” at http://hrs.massey.ac.nz/docs/OOS.pdf

     

    Is anyone out there looking at overuse problems amongst school children?

     

    Moreover fidgeting appears to help reduce obesity; the Mayo Clinic has found that fidgeting assists in maintaining weight control. See http://www.hosppract.com/cc/1999/cc9904.htm

     

    It is starting to look as if fidgeting needs to be positively encouraged!

     

     

     I hope you find something useful in that lot!

    Regards,

    David McFarlane

    Ergonomist,

    WorkCover Authority of New South Wales

    Disclaimer

    Any recommendation concerning the use or representation of a particular brand of product in this document or any mention of them whatsoever (whether this appears in the text, illustrations, photographs or in any other form) is not to be taken to imply that WorkCover NSW approves or endorses the product or the brand. Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender and are not necessarily the views of WorkCover NSW.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    #40520

    lhezlie
    Participant

     Thank you for all the help! I think i may be able to use all your suggestions when I’m going to take my PhD degree!

    #39668

    lhezlie
    Participant

     hi sir MacFarlane, 

    i’m interested in two of the topic you posted for research, laptop frown and laughter and treatment of stress… can you give me further advice or readings for this topic.

    actually i’m having a hard time now since i cannot continue my supposedly thesis topic because there was already a study about it.

    and i’m running out of time…. please help 

    thanks

    #39669

    admin
    Keymaster

    Dear Leslian,

    If you are short of time you might want to avoid a topic that might take yrears of observations (suach as the causation of the laptop frown) and look at an effect that could be tested immediately with physiological parameters such as heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension.

    Why don’t you look at the topic "Laughter and the treatment of stress"? Research at the Indiana State University School of Nursing (by Bennett et al, 2003) indicates that laughter may reduce stress and increase disease resistance (particularly for persons with cancer and HIV disease) by improving the activity of the "NK cells".

    Moreover research at the Loma Linda University School of Medicine (by Bennett et al, 2003) has shown that mirthful laughter might be able to reverse the effects of the classical stress hormones (by reducing the serum levels of cortisol, dopac, epinephrine, and growth hormone).

    Why don’t you research on the use of humour during rest breaks to treat stress for keyboard workers? If you want an amusing website for such research, I have found one that might be useful. It is "The Laughing Policeman" – see; http://www.funnyfair.com/policemanfl.htm

     

     

    David McFarlane MAppSc (Ergonomics)

    Ergonomist, WorkCover NSW

     

    Disclaimer

     

    The views expressed above are those of the author and they do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of WorkCover NSW. Any recommendation concerning the use or representation of a particular brand of product in this document or any mention of them whatsoever (whether this appears in the text, illustrations, photographs or in any other form) is not to be taken to imply that WorkCover NSW approves or endorses the product or the brand.

     References

    1. M. Bennett, J. Zeller, L Rosenberg, J McCann, (2003), "The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell activity", Altern Ther Health Med. 2003 Mar-Apr; 9(2):38-45.

    The abstract for this journal paper is on the web at;

    The effect of mirthful laughter on stress and natural killer cell

     

    2. L. Berk, S. Tan, W. Fry, B. Napier, J. Lee, R. Hubbard, J. Lewis, W. Eby, (1989),

    "Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful laughter", Am J Med Sci. 1989 Dec;298(6):390-6.

    The abstract for this journal paper is on the web at;

    Neuroendocrine and stress hormone changes during mirthful laughter.

    #39706

    [private user]
    Participant

    Dave:

    I can answer one of your unsolved questions:  revolving doors.  Revolving doors were an attempt to reduce the amount of external air coming in uncontrolled into a building when a door is opened, thus reducing the amount of discomfort of those in an open foyer/entry area and reducing the amount of heat/cooling required to maintain a temperate atmosphere.  

    Although the concept works from the air temperature standpoint, there has always been a struggle with how to make them efficient while being user friendly at the same time.  Some of them have been a source of frustration to decide how to enter without getting caught, how fast to move ahead, and how to get out without getting pinched or having to go around again. 

     

    Karl Marion, MS, CIE, CPE

    #40894

    Hello, Sir Dave… I am also looking for a possible thesis topic for my Industrial Engineering Degree. I am interested about your suggestion in here about the use of humour during rest breaks to treat stress for keyboard workers. Has anyone already tried to pursue this topic? :) Maybe I can use this suggestion of yours.

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