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  • in reply to: ergonomics of fry basket use in restaurants #40182

    [private user]
    Participant

    I agree, having a University do a formal study would be great.  Any takers out there??  Any HFE programs with a grad student looking for a great project??  We might be a good test site.  I'd love to be part of a collaborative project. 

    And Bud, if you have something you'd like to test, we'd be happy to give it a try!

     

    in reply to: ergonomics of fry basket use in restaurants #40179

    [private user]
    Participant

    This is an issue for us, as we cook A LOT of fries, and other fried foods as well.  We have automatic fryers, so that when the food is done, the baskets rise up on their own, and drain.  This eliminates the need for the cast member to lift the basket up out of the oil.  This does not eliminate the need, however, to lift up the basket further, then dump it.  We have evaluated a couple prototypes of "bottom'dumping" baskets for fries, but we have not been able to find one that works effectively – the gripping required to "dump" has been excessive.  So, although the turning of the basket over is eliminated (with the bottom dumper), they still have to lift it, then grip to release the bottom, and mechanically this hasn't been a big improvement, even with lowering the container where the fries will be dumped.  I am not aware of any research, and would love to see any that exists.  The risk factors are significant, with the long lever arm of the fry basket, the load, and the repetitive nature of the task.


    [private user]
    Participant

    There is no "need" for a referral.  An employee can request and evaluation, and the employer will deal with it in whatever way is customary for them.  The employer is not exactly "inviting" a referral.  If the employee is in the WC system, and the MD recommends an ergonomic evaluation, it is what it is.  The employer has no control over the fact that the MD may make a referral for an ergo eval.  Understanding that the MD probably has no training/education in ergonomics, the referral for an ergo evaluation is actually a good thing.  I have watched this practice evolve over the past couple of decades, and I’m happy to see MD’s making those referrals much more frequently.

    I agree that ideally, the employer would accept responsibility for bringing in the ergonomist and making any necessary changes for the injured worker, but what often happens here is that the employer sees the WC system as a way to shift the cost – if it is a work injury, and the MD makes a referral for an ergo eval, the WC carrier will pay for the ergonomist/consultant and the equipment that the ergonomist recommends.  Again, many times, employers see this as a good thing and a benefit of their WC coverage.  Philosophically, I would again agree that the employer should accept responsibility and take care of things, but often times, as I said, the employer will take advantage of having the WC carrier pay for the evaluation and the equipment.  It’s easy to see why this may happen – I’m not saying I agree with the practice, but it’s easy to see why an employer may choose to shift the cost to the ins. co.

    In a WC case, we cannot ignore a MD recommendation.  It is then up to the employer how to deal with it, and it is out of our control as an ergonomist/consultant, except for making a recommendation to the employer regarding the issue.

    Keep in mind that this is just a WC or accommodation issue, and is not an issue with any prevention work we do.  An MD referral in a medical case is not out of line.

    Joanette Lima, PT, CPE

    Ergonomist, Disneyland Resort, Anaheim CA

    in reply to: Positioning computer monitors for tri focal wearer? #41210

    [private user]
    Participant

    I wear progressive lenses and they work fine for me with computer use.  It took a little while to get used to them (my eye doctor said to give it a few weeks).  Yes, the mid-range is a little small, and yes, I cannot just scan with my eyes when I use the computer – I must move my head a bit from side to side as I read the screen, but the movement is minimal and you get used to it.

    I have classic "aging eyes" – first I needed them for reading, then for computer use.  I used the "occupational lenses" (top for computer, bottom for reading) for a while, but ultimately I went to the progressives.  This way, I don’t have to take them on and off when I get up to walk to the printer, while sitting in a restaurant and looking from my menu to whoever’s sitting across the table from me, and when I’m sitting in a classroom setting where I need to see materials (reading), look at the instructor (distance), and the occasional CBT where I actually have to look at a computer as well.  This way I can just leave them on.  I found it very annoying to be taking my glasses on and off.  I’ve been very happy with my progressive lenses.

    I know many people who do very well with progressives on a computer.  I also know those who cannot wear them, they just cannot get used to them.  I do think they’re a viable solution for computer use, especially for someone who has some of my examples above, or who actually needs a distance correction (which I don’t).

    I do keep my monitor low, and I firmly agree with Jeff that the employees need to be educated.  Lowering a monitor is an easy way to find the correct height and work to keep in neutral most of the time.  No one should be "tipping their head back".  With the "progressive" aspect of the lense, you should be able to find that "sweet spot" with the monitor around arms length (I actually keep mine further away than that).  I agree that movement is good as well, but in general, with the head and neck, we’re looking to keep the head/neck in a fairly neutral position most of the time to avoid fatigue.  Taking rest breaks, of course, and vision breaks is critical in reducing risks further.  I like the occupational lense as an option, but I encourage people to at least consider progressives.  They can be a good solution.

    Joanette Lima, PT, CIE, CPE

    Disneyland Resort, Anaheim CA


    [private user]
    Participant

    My understanding (and previous experience as an independent consultant here in CA) is that the answer is dependent on who will be paying the bill.  If you want to bill the WC carrier, then you’ll need their authorization and you’ll bill through the WC/medical system, and payment will come from the WC carrier.  If the referral is directly from the employer, and the employer is willing to pay you directly, you will not need any sort of authorization from the WC carrier because you’ll be working outside the WC system and payment will come from the employer.

    Joanette Lima, PT, CPE

    Ergonomist, Disneyland Resort

    Anaheim, CA

    in reply to: Return to Work Criteria #41410

    [private user]
    Participant

    I also agree that attempting to test for physical demands that are “non-cyclical” and vary in extremes is difficult. The police officer is the perfect example. They may sit in the patrol car for several hours, then have to go “zero to sixty” — jump out of the car with a weapon and chase a suspect. That in itself can have significant risks, and would be very difficult to simulate.

    There are many similarities with firefighters. Much of the time they sit in front of the computer, but then they may have to move a body down a dark stairwell, climb smoke-filled stairs with full gear and a breathing apparatus on, cut a hole in a roof or walk up and down steep hills in a brushfire. They may not do that often, but they must be physically able to do it. You must test for the heaviest physical demands. Most fire departments do “physical agility” testing, and they test for the heaviest physical demands – during a physical agility test they drag hoses, they climb stairs with full gear on, they lift and/or drag dummies, they lift ladders, etc. I strongly feel (and with many fire departments this is not the case), that whatever they must do to get on the job, they must be able to do to “return to work” after an injury. It’s for their own personal safety and for the safety of their coworkers.

    This is no different for the police officers. Whatever is done for a physical agility test prehire, that should be done for return to work. Tests must be very task specific, and must be standardized. Herein lies the challenges. And you must test for the heaviest physical demands. I think they’re even less defined for the police officer than for the firefighter, but at a minimum they need to run a certain distance, jump a barrier, kneel, squat and or bend down to or on the ground while dealing with a suspect, use all of their weapons safely and effectively, and have sitting tolerance if they’re a patrol officer. Functional upper body strength is critical for holding/pushing/pulling/gripping. Trunk strength and stability is critical with many of the tasks discussed above such as running, jumping, bending, pushing and pulling. A police officer needs to be in excellent physical condition to be able to safely perform his/her job tasks.

    I guess what I’m saying is that the key is to simulate the heaviest physical demands of the job (if you’re looking to return the officer to full duty, as you stated). If you’re not clear on what they are, a physical demands job analysis should be done. If you’ve got an effective physical agility test in place for prehire, look at that. Again, it must be functional, it must simulate real job tasks, and it must be standardized. Hope this is helpful.

    Joanette Alpert, MS, PT, CIE, CPE

    Woodward, Alpert & Associates, Inc.

    Santa Ana, CA

    in reply to: Research on Negative Tilt Keyboards #37775

    [private user]
    Participant

    There is an article that was published in “Physical Therapy”, by Simoneau, G., Marklin, R. & Berman, J. in 2003; vol. 83; pp 816-830. It is titled “Effect of computer keyboard slope on wrist position and forearm electromyography of typists without musculoskeletal disorders”.

    In the abstract, the discussion and conclusion states: “Wrist extension decreased as the keyboard slope decreased. Furthermore, a slight decrease in percentage of MVC of the ECU muscle was noted as the keyboard slope decreased. Based on biomechanical modeling and published work on carpal tunnel pressure, both of the these findings appear to be positive with respect to comfort and fatigue, but the exact consequences of these findings on the reduction or prevention of injuries have yet to be determined. The results may aid physical therapists and ergonomists in their evaluations of computer keyboard workstations and in making recommendations for interventions with regard to keyboard slope angle.”

    My experience is that a slight negative slope is usually very helpful (the goal is to get the wrist in neutral), is usually well received by the worker, and I’ve seen it immediately reduce symptoms of wrist pain. I have not had the experience of it being an issue of “not being able to see the keys”, because the negative slope is slight, and it just hasn’t been an issue that has been brought to my attention. I would closely evaluate, however, making this change in one who “hunts and pecks” – I would still try it, but would watch the outcome very closely.

    Joanette Alpert MS, PT, CIE, CPE

    Woodward, Alpert & Associates, Inc.

    Santa Ana, CA

    in reply to: Wellness Fair #38611

    [private user]
    Participant

    Hello Heather,

    I don’t know how creative it is, but nice pens with ergo grips are inexpensive, and you can put your company name, or some other message on them. You can also have a drawing, and give away a well designed “something” that would be related to the industry in which you are doing the health fair. Something with an “ergonomically designed” handle (they have some nice kitchen utensils), or something more related to their work/industry…

    Joanette Alpert MS, PT, CIE, CPE

    in reply to: Microbreaks #38610

    [private user]
    Participant

    Here are a few good references addressing microbreaks:

    1. Balci, R. & Aghazadeh, F. (2003). The effect of work-rest schedules and type of task on the discomfort and performance of VDT users. Ergonomics, Vol. 46, No. 5, pp 455 – 465.

    2. Galinsky, T. et al (2000). A field study of supplementary rest breaks for data-entry operators. Ergonomics, Vol. 43, No. 5, pp 622 – 638.

    3. Henning, R. et al. (1997). Frequent short rest breaks from computer work: effects on productivity and well-being at two field sites. Ergonomics, Vol. 40, No. 1, pp 78 – 91.

    Hope this is helpful.

    Joanette Alpert, MS, PT, CIE, CPE

    Woodward, Alpert & Associates, Inc.

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