On-Line Ergonomics Solutions for General Industry

Award Information
Agency: Department of Health and Human Services
Branch: N/A
Contract: 1R43OH009354-01A1
Agency Tracking Number: OH009354
Amount: $86,500.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2008
Solicitation Year: N/A
Solicitation Topic Code: N/A
Solicitation Number: N/A
Small Business Information
DUNS: 067212055
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 (570) 296-9651
Business Contact
Phone: () -
Research Institution
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): The purpose of this project is to develop a website devoted to providing ergonomics solutions to help reduce the risk factors for workplace Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)in general industry. The website will be search able and browsable by task, industry, and MSD risk factor. Solutions will include commercially available products, equipment modifications that can be made in-house, and improved work methods. These solutions will be adapted from the PI's library of report s, photographs, and other information that have been accumulated over a 30-year period in ergonomics consulting projects performed in over 1300 individual workplaces. In a survey of existing websites, researchers found no websites currently available with the breadth and level of detail planned for the proposed product. The solutions will be organized and described in a manner that is educational, helping users to understand the appropriate application of each, including standard pros and cons and possible unintended consequences. Furthermore, an overview tutorial on background ergonomics principles will be provided, along with links to additional support materials, such as books, training videotapes, and analytic tools. Thus, this website constitutes a co mponent of a larger package of support. The solutions will be oriented towards reduction of specific risk factors for MSDs that are well- established in the scientific literature (primarily methods to improve awkward postures and reduce exertion, but also including techniques to reduce motions, contact stress, and static loading of muscles). The target users of this website are personnel such as occupational safety staff and production engineers from individual workplaces in general industry that involve hi gh risk for MSDs, i.e., those facilities that involve significant manual material handling and production operations whether categorized in the service industry or manufacturing sectors. The initial prototype website will focus on light manufacturing. The website will be designed to be easily expandable in the future to include other high risk occupational categories in general industry such as delivery services and maintenance tasks. The Phase I research objective is to evaluate the usability of the protot ype ergonomics website. Core research questions include: (1) Does the website contain useful information? (2) Are topics and results easily found within the website? (3) Is this website more effective than current alternatives for finding possible engineer ing controls for MSDs? Selected individuals from this target user group will constitute the survey population. Evaluation of the website will include standard methods of website usability research, i.e., surveys, questionnaires, focus groups, and performan ce measurements. Phase I of this project will seek qualitative feedback from users and Phase II will address follow-up questions using greater emphasis on quantitative methods. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE Work-related MSDs are the most prevalent, most expensiv e, and most preventable workplace injuries in the U.S. A major barrier to prevention efforts is for personnel in general industry to find practical information on feasible engineering controls for their specific and often unique operations. This project se eks to help reduce the scientifically established risk factors for work-related MSDs by converting a large library of known ergonomics solutions for general industry into a website that provides useful and easily accessible information.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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