What is the meaning of ergonomics for us™? This blog post answers that question. ergonomics for us™ means …
When I left a longtime consulting job to start Saturn Ergonomics Consulting, my vision was to build a company focused on developing and delivering tools & technology to truly meet the needs of the ergonomics practitioner. By ergonomics practitioner, I mean the real living, breathing people out in the field who apply ergonomics … supervisors, engineers, maintenance employees, safety leads, hourly ergo team members, etc.
Too many times I have felt like the tools ergonomists (particularly consulting ergonomists) deliver to clients are “out of phase” with the true needs of the end user. Tools & content are often overly complicated, contain too much technical jargon, require cumbersome calculations, etc. As a colleague once said, “ergonomics tools are often not ergonomic” (referring to user-experience/user-friendly aspects).
A few things come to mind when I think of ergonomics for us™ ...
Tools & process designed to be accessible to more people. A few years ago I realized that a well-designed tool - particularly tools related to anthropometry and force evaluation - enables lower skill-set users to achieve results comparable to higher skilled users such as engineers or safety/ergo professionals. Through user-friendly design of the tools themselves - same “technology” but improved UX design - we can enable more people to understand and apply ergonomics.
In contrast to being accessible, ergonomics technical content is often put into a separate training course for engineers or other “advanced” users. I believe that if an engineer is required to understand and apply the content, you should strongly consider whether the content is too complicated in the first place.
Another aspect of accessibility is having access to the tools when and where they are needed. User friendly web-based calculators and apps make it more practical than ever for practitioners to use/apply the tools. So digitization and mobility are important as far as accessibility is concerned.
One aspect of accuracy that is often overlooked is tools actually being user-friendly (easy to understand and apply). If people understand something, they can readily apply it and will make fewer mistakes. But beyond that, it is desirable for a tool’s core model to be based on an accurate and robust mathematical model. The force & fatigue evaluation technologies being introduced by Saturn Ergonomics are based on a highly accurate core models with clear origins in published research.
Many risk assessment tools are simply not practical from an application standpoint. One reason is they are not robust enough to factor-in what the user observes & measures in the field. For example, many risk assessment and evaluation tools force the user to either calculate a weighted average, or evaluate the worst-case scenario. Neither approach is practical (or truly accurate) in my opinion. Additive & cumulative evaluation technologies are rapidly enabling us to evaluate forces of different magnitude in the same calculation. This additive characteristic makes tools much more practical to apply.
Also, there are some needs that simply are not met by existing ergo evaluation & risk assessment tools. For example, there is no practical dynamic shoulder evaluation model to account for both segment weight (gravitational force to arm & hand) and object weight (gravitation force to hand). Static biomechanics models fail to account for repetition/frequency, and do not account for the dynamic nature of tasks. This is another area of technology innovation at Saturn Ergonomics - developing a practical, dynamic shoulder evaluation model.
Fast refers to training time and application time. For example, the Saturn Ergonomics anthropometry app/tool requires significantly less training time and less application time than does using conventional anthropometric tables. For example, training that used to take approximately 45 minutes to complete can now be completed in 10-15 minutes. And “fast” in application as well. Training case problems require a fraction of the time to complete using the new app/tool.
ACCESSIBLE, ACCURATE, PRACTICAL, and FAST. Those are words that come to mind when I think of ergonomics for us™. Good ergonomics is about doing more with less, and enabling more people to apply ergonomics. ergonomics for us™ means technology and services designed to meet the needs of the people who apply ergonomics.