Ergonomic Data: Its Use in Effective& Defensible Pre employment Programs
- Eric Blankenheim (University of Wisconsin) | Connie Korth (Simandl Law Group) | Julie Baumann (Blankenheim Services) | Melissa Samuels (University of Wisconsin)
- Document ID
- American Society of Safety Engineers
- Professional Safety
- Publication Date
- June 2014
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 58 - 66
- 2014. American Society of Safety Engineers
- 0 in the last 30 days
- 27 since 2007
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What is a reasonable amount of work to ask a person to perform? This is an age-old question. The Egyptian Book of the Dead, circa 150 B.C., cites this as part of a prayer that must be recited to be admitted into the underworld: "I did not ask anyone to work past their abilities." The modern era poses conflicting priorities and restrictions that affect the answer to this question today.
From a traditional industrial engineering approach, job requirements and machines are designed around a certain population set, often 90% to 95% of the working population. How-ever, when design parameters become more inclusive of a greater percentage of the population, the cost of workstation design and set-up increases exponentially. Therefore, by definition, the design parameters exclude or discriminate against a certain percentage of the population.
An example of this contradiction is the NIOSH (2001) Work Practices Guide. This ergonomic model continues to be the gold standard regarding material handling. However, its recommended weight limit calculates a safe lifting limit for 99% of 40-year-old men and 75% of 40-year-old women. Even when a company complies with the guide, 25% of 40-year-old women, 1% of men and workers over age 40 are at potentially unacceptable risk for ergonomic injury.
While companies strive to minimize work-related injuries, they also must comply with state and federal disability laws when placing workers with disabilities. In addition, in a labor market where skilled and qualified workers are in increasingly high demand, from an operational sense, it is important to place qualified workers whenever possible.
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