Category Archives: Occupational Ergonomics

a pile of tools of all sorts

Entooled Cognition

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Consider this quote from Catie Lazarus in a recent Fast Company article:

My dad always told me that when you’re handed a test, put your pencil down and don’t write a thing.

My post today is the next in a series of posts: from embodied cognition to enclothed cognition and now entooled cognition…

a man running while exerting himself


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I have seen many cases where people choose a strategy that takes more time or more physical effort to save mental effort. This paper used a very simple task to test out the idea.

We asked university students to pick up either of two buckets, one to the left of an alley and one to the right, and to carry the selected bucket to the alley’s end. In most trials, one of the buckets was closer to the end point…


Workplace Safety and the Evolution of the Box Cutter

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In what seems like a previous life, I used to work in the back of a grocery store unpacking pallets and stocking shelves for minimum wage. A lot of things were prehistoric in those days, including our safety policies (or lack thereof) and our box cutters, similar to the yellow one in the image. This was before my first ergonomics or safety course, so I had no clue that there could be a better way. Flash forward to 2014 and here is a recent article from Industrial Safety and Hygiene News

two men washing the windows of a tall building

Safety, Risk Taking, and . . . Mating Rituals?

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A good way to identify the risks that might emerge at your workplace is to consider what would be salient to our ancestors in the ritual mating dance. While showing off now involves crazy selfies and YouTube videos (selfeos?), we spent generations showing off by braving heights and swimming in deep waters and approaching fierce animals. According to a recent study, it turns out that these risks are so ingrained that we are still more likely to take ancient risks when we are in the mood to show off our skill and derring-do than modern risks like driving without a seat belt or ignoring PPE (which we still do, but for other reasons)…

work gloves

First Responder Gloves

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When choosing a work glove, there are several criteria that need to be considered to optimize the combination of performance and safety. Too often, a worker will remove a glove that degrades his or her touch sensitivity or fine motor control and get cut, burned, or electrocuted as a result. OSHA has a good guide for general considerations like thermal protection, touch sensitivity, tear and puncture resistance, and other criteria…

A woman reading from a teleprompter

Smart Technology: Background Monitoring to Improve User Behavior

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On this week’s On The Media, Michael Galvin, the host of Galvin on Galvin, described an interesting feature at his studio that I thought would make a great topic for conversation. Galvin is the host and has Autism himself. One of his symptoms is that he slouches, even when hosting his show. He related that his teleprompter keeps him from slouching by turning off when it senses he is slouching…

a woman wearing glasses

The Best UX Activities: Find a Simple but Annoying and Common Pain Point and Mitigate It

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Reading this article in OZY (sort of a “cool” news aggregator) made me think of the core underlying UX best practice. “Frames constantly sliding down your nose or off your face are no good for anybody: They cramp your style and your view. But for Nashville-based Don Hejny, the slipping and sliding cleared his vision right up – it showed him the perfect invention, a solution called “Nerdwax.””…

An image of notes and other brainstorming tools

User Experience in the Mainstream Media

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It was great to read this interview with Michael Heilemann from Squarespace and Aarron Walter from Mailchimp at Fast Company magazine. The takeaway I want to highlight today is that the way these two tech execs define user experience is very interdisciplinary. It involves every area of human factors. As a quick test, I scanned the list of HFES Technical Groups and I couldn’t find one that wasn’t included and essential in their definition…

Ergonomic Design: Buzzword or Key Differentiator?

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Is this really an ergonomic improvement? Or is it just aesthetics fooling our body into thinking it will feel good? “Home Depot’s new Big Gripper all-purpose bucket is a handy improvement on the old school, five-gallon contractor pail. An ergonomic handle and patent pending “pocket grip” on the underside sets the product apart on the shelf, but more importantly, the design is a showpiece for a new approach to big box merchandising.”…