Category Archives: Occupational Ergonomics

classroom

Standing Desks at School

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The passion with which many people responded to each of the articles on sitting and standing workstations was both surprising and gratifying. I didn’t realize it was such a hot button topic, but it is gratifying to know how many people are reading the articles we publish here. Analytics aside, it is sometimes hard to know for sure. I think the consensus of informed response was that a middle path is needed. The more variety, change, and adjustability in the user’s posture, the better the…

man sleep at desk

The Emotional Benefits of Sitting

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The response to our two articles (so far) on sitting versus standing at work, the first on standing desks and the second on a total reconceptualization of the workplace to support leaning instead of either sitting or standing was off the charts. Every LinkedIn group got responses from ergonomists, productivity specialists, and people with personal experience. We even got comments directly on the articles here on the EID site (which doesn’t always happen).

leaning workplace

Leaning Workplace

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I don’t know about you, but I find this to be incredible intriguing. I am not ready to say yet whether I think it would actually work, but it is certainly thought-provoking and a great topic for this week’s “Thought-Provoking Thursday.”

Forget standing desks. In the office of the future, you might lean instead—supported by giant rock-like sculptures that designers argue are a healthier, more active way to work than anything that’s come before. A prototype of the office design is now on display in Amsterdam.

Standing Desk

Standing Desks

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Standing desks seem to be one of those movements that have developed an irresistible momentum. No data needed. They instinctively resonate as a good idea. A no brainer. Why would we need any research to back it up? Sedentary lifestyles are killing us, causing obesity, diabetes, back pain . . . so standing must be better.

If it wasn’t already clear through common sense, it’s become painfully clear through science that sitting all day is terrible for your health. What’s especially alarming about this evidence is that extra physical activity doesn’t seem to offset the costs of what researchers call “prolonged sedentary time.” Just as jogging and tomato juice don’t make up for a night of smoking and drinking, a little evening exercise doesn’t erase the physical damage done by a full work day at your desk.

ergo-X banner

ERGO-X Conference of Champions

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As most of you probably already know, the EID site is part of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society’s family of services. We strive to cover as many dimensions of HF/E as we can in our limited space and time. That is one of the reasons we had our open forum day and we will do that again. It is also why we point out great HFES events such as UX Day. Today we are happy share another one of these great events, the ERGO-X Conference (link to https://www.hfes.org/Web/HFESMeetings/ergoX.html).

At ErgoX, world-class leaders in the ergonomics field will translate the latest scientific findings and best practices into effective information, procedures, tools, and approaches you can use to improve your work safety and wellness outcomes – all in a unique, user-friendly, and intimate setting.

We Work Office Space

Innovation of the Workplace is Not Just About Cost Savings

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Using an office at WeWork feels a lot like checking in at a swank hotel. Indie music plays softly in the reception area. Young professionals with laptops sprawl across couches, beanbag chairs, and even pillow-covered stacks of wooden pallets, sipping artisanal coffee or lemon-accented water. Depending on the day, help yourself to a waffle brunch, or sign up for a $1-per-minute massage in a conference room.

This is the third in our series on the future of the workplace. You can find the first one here and the second one here.

Lifting a heavy box

Increasing Lift Strength with a Simple Idea

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This is an example of an ergonomic development that innovates by taking a novel perspective on an old problem. A team of researchers at Hiroshima University wanted to develop a low cost version of the exoskeleton suits that provide hydraulic or pneumatic power to help people lift extraordinary loads. But theirs accomplishes a similar feat with regular cloth and no electronic devices. How do they achieve this feat of magic?

A prototype for wearable equipment to support human motion has now been developed. This wearable equipment, called the Sensorimotor Enhancing Suit (SEnS), enhances sensorimotor functions by reducing the muscle load of the upper limbs. SEnS is inexpensive because it is made of flexible fabrics using regular cloth and does not include any electronic devices. SEnS assists human sensorimotor functions and improves the quality of life of not only elderly individuals but also healthy people who work under extreme conditions.

Caution Tape

Learning to Handle Risk

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There has been a lot of interest in this topic lately. Part of it is the prevalence of helicopter parents who work hard to prevent their kids from being exposed to risks of any kind. When I was a kid, my parents just sent me outside to play. Where I went and what I did was pretty much up to me, although based in part on the smarts and values that my parents had previously instilled. I wandered pretty far afield. And I got into a fair amount of trouble. But for the most part, I got myself out of it.

But adults have come to the mistaken view “that children must somehow be sheltered from all risks of injury,” Frost writes. “In the real world, life is filled with risks—financial, physical, emotional, social—and reasonable risks are essential for children’s healthy development.”

Pregnant Belly

What’s Reasonable for the Goose is Reasonable for the Gander

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There is no law specifically mandating accommodation for pregnant workers. We have mandates for special demographic classes (gender, age, religion) and we have mandates for disabilities through the ADA. And we have mandates for conditions developed in the workplace under workers comp regulations. But not pregnancy. As long as pregnant workers are not given less accommodation or are discriminated against (you can’t have a workplace rule preventing pregnant women from doing a job), there is no law that a company has to give more.

If a woman is temporarily unable to perform her job due to a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth, the employer or other covered entity must treat her in the same way as it treats any other temporarily disabled employee. For example, the employer may have to provide light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave to pregnant employees if it does so for other temporarily disabled employees.

Fireworks

One Year Anniversary

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In honor of the one year anniversary of EID’s relaunch (check out our first post ever here) under our new format, we thought we would copy an innovative technique used by Ta-Nehisi Coates. In addition to being a brilliant, award winning writer, he is also credited for having one of the best comment management strategies for his blog at The Atlantic magazine. One dimension of his strategy, which seems obvious on the surface but is incredibly rare, is to start with the assumption that some…