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Community-Based Ergonomics. Year 3 Ergonomics G Szeto May 2002. What is a “Community” . Children Adults Elderlies Disabled Homes, schools, community centres Transportation Access to buildings  Emphasis is on local community. Ergonomics.

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Community based ergonomics l.jpg

Community-Based Ergonomics

Year 3 Ergonomics

G Szeto

May 2002

What is a community l.jpg
What is a “Community”

  • Children

  • Adults

  • Elderlies

  • Disabled

  • Homes, schools, community centres

  • Transportation

  • Access to buildings

    Emphasis is on local community

Ergonomics l.jpg

Matching the worker, the job, the tool and the environment

Benefits of ergonomics l.jpg

Employee/ worker :

reduce risk of injury

better job satisfaction

Employer :

Reduced payments for compensation

Less staff turnover

Increased productivity


Community, organisations,


Benefits of ergonomics

Examples of ergonomic projects l.jpg
Examples of Ergonomic Projects

  • Can you think of some of the student projects that can be considered examples of ergonomic projects for the community?

Matching community needs with ergonomic interventions l.jpg

Community needs:

Elderly:mobility, access, activities

Adult:Work, leisure (sports), daily activities (home, office, community places)

Child: school, leisure

Disabled persons: school, work, mobility

Ergonomic interventions:

identify problems

conduct assessment

provide recommendations

conduct training, education

health promotion

modifications of environment, tools, work organisation

Product design

Matching community needs with ergonomic interventions

Example 1 l.jpg
Example 1:

  • You are a physiotherapist employed by a new nursing home. Your job duty includes designing the space and equipment of the physiotherapy department. The head of the nursing home also wants your input into the design of the accommodation area of the residents.

  • How will you go about doing this ?

  • Can your knowledge in ergonomics be used here?

The person s l.jpg
The Person(s)

  • What are the characteristics of the elderly residents? Physical, psychosocial, behavioural..

  • What are their needs? persons with arthritis, neurological problems, orthopaedic problems, dementia

  • What will they be doing? Physiotherapy dept activities, equipment,…

  • Residential area - what opinion can you offer to the administrator of nursing home?

The work activities the environment l.jpg
The “Work” (Activities) & the Environment

  • Physiotherapy department - treatment equipment,

  • Furniture - beds, chairs,

  • Facilities - doorways, toilets, access,

  • Organisation of activities - matching with organisation of space

Anthropometric data on disabled persons l.jpg
Anthropometric data on disabled persons for wheelchair users

  • Pheasant (1986): Bodyspace

  • Kumar (Ed): “Perspectives in Rehabilitation Ergononomics”: Chapter 12, Anthropometry for the needs of disabled people

  • Databases on wheelchair users (mostly spinal cord injuries):Sitting heights, reach heights, wc width and depth

  • Elderly persons : seating measurements, bars/rails in corridors, access/support in toileting, bathing facilities

Integrate your knowledge and apply them l.jpg
Integrate your knowledge and apply them.. for wheelchair users

  • Anthropometric factors

  • Work organisation

  • Biomechanics

  • Disease and Pathology

  • EPT modalities

  • Exercise therapy

  • Assistive devices

  • How the workers/users are matched with the work/activities and the environment

Example 2 transportation in hong kong l.jpg
Example 2: Transportation in Hong Kong for wheelchair users

  • Essential part of community life

  • How can knowledge of ergonomics be applied?

  • Do you see evidence of this knowledge being applied?

  • Can you have a dual role of physiotherapist as well as ergonomist?

  • Why would the bus co. consult you instead of somoone from another profession, e.g. engineer?

Examples of research studies l.jpg
Examples of research studies for wheelchair users

  • Courtney, AJ and Wong MH. ( 1985). Anthropometry of the Hong Kong male and the design of bus driver cabs. Applied Ergonomics, 16(4), 259-266.

  • Examined the matching of the anthropometric factors of Hong Kong male chinese bus drivers with the design of the driver’s seat, steering wheel etc which are mainly designed for overseas drivers

What are the important considerations l.jpg
What are the important considerations? for wheelchair users

  • Access

  • Movements within the vehicle

  • Support to body in appropriate places

  • Comfort in travel -seats design, arrangement

  • Physical sizes of passengers

  • Carrying capacity

  • What else?

Slide17 l.jpg

Consideration of different aspects of sitting posture for wheelchair users

Consideration of anthropometric factors in different populations - males, females, children, elderly

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The Issues of Seating for wheelchair users

  • Elderly persons

  • Persons with disability

  • Normal healthy populations : user groups

    • public transport

    • restaurants

    • buildings, facilities ( arena)

    • dental patients

    • offices

    • schools

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Methods to study the problem of seating for wheelchair users

  • Subjective discomfort

  • Biomechanical studies :

    • distribution of pressure on the seat

    • pressures in the lumbar spine, alignment in the lumbar spine

    • movements in and out of chair

    • design of chair to match job, activity, environment

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Economy Class Syndrome for wheelchair users

  • Lots of media attention: Is it something new?

  • Drawing attention to ergonomic needs

  • Seating issue - different work situations, non-stop sitting for entire shift

  • Space is a big problem in Hong Kong

  • Back problems, knee problems, in addition to circulation problems

  • Can you think of some jobs that are prone to this problem?

Examples of student projects in other institutions l.jpg
Examples of student projects in other institutions for wheelchair users


Example 3 ergonomics for school children l.jpg
Example 3: Ergonomics for School Children for wheelchair users

  • Problems identified:

  • school bags

  • school furniture

  • school activities

  • school buildings

  • Matching the “student” with the “work”

Slide25 l.jpg

Task for wheelchair users






Visual Discomfort

Musculoskeletal Discomfort

Growth and Health of Child/Adult

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Potential harmful effects of Intensive computer use for wheelchair users

  • Musculoskeletal discomfort/injuries

  • Musculoskeletal growth - structural changes, postural changes

  • Visual discomfort  visual impairment

  • Psychosocial skills - social interactions with people

  • some mental/motor skills enhanced but other skills neglected

Slide27 l.jpg

2 computer rooms for wheelchair users

in a secondary school

Example 4 community based health education project l.jpg
Example 4: Community-based health education project for wheelchair users

  • March 2000

  • Office workers’ health promotion campaign

  • jointly organised by dept of RS and Clerical and Professional Employees’ Assoc

  • Series of activities:

    Outdoor Exhibition

    Office workers’ health promotion day

    Press conference and open forum

Office workers health promotion day l.jpg
Office Workers’ Health Promotion Day for wheelchair users

  • Education talk

  • Demonstration of exercises

  • Assessment of posture & ROM

  • Display of VDU furniture (& accessories) and assessment of suitable chair and desk height

  • Questionaire survey

  • Counselling

Outcome l.jpg
Outcome for wheelchair users

  • Whole campaign - over 2000 persons reached

  • Health promotion day - over 200 attended

  • Newspaper writeup - 9-10 newspapers

  • Good example of promotion of the concept and awareness to general public

  • Continuation of activities

  • Questionaire survey - generated

    useful data

Future opportunities l.jpg
Future opportunities for wheelchair users

  • Community based ergonomics: focus more on users instead of workers

  • Health promotion among community

  • Promotion of ergonomics among working populations and community groups

  • Increasing awareness of ergonomics

  • Increasing demand for ergonomic services

Applying ergonomic principles to user gourps in addition to workers l.jpg

Applying ergonomic principles to USER GOURPS for wheelchair users

in addition to workers

Community Ergonomics

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Potential areas of development for PT and OT for wheelchair users

  • Specialising in treatment of work injuries and work rehabilitation programs

  • Education and promotion of occupational safety and health

  • Worksite analysis and consultancy

  • Ergonomics for community groups

  • Research

  • education/training




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