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News Roundup: New Tech and Updated Resources for Ergonomics

By Kay Bechtold

In recent weeks, the sprawling world of occupational health and safety brought us several news items on the topic of ergonomics.

Earlier this month, NIOSH, which has been keeping busy on the mobile app development front, released NLE Calc, a new mobile app intended to help workers stay safe when manually lifting objects on the job. The app is designed for workers in industries such as manufacturing, healthcare, and retail, and is based on the Revised NIOSH Lifting Equation, or RNLE, an internationally recognized standard for safe lifting. RNLE was developed by NIOSH researchers to determine weight limits for preventing back injuries caused by manually lifting objects. NLE Calc follows several popular apps developed by NIOSH over the last couple of years: the redesigned, co-branded OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool app; the NIOSH Sound Level Meter mobile app; and a new mobile app version of the agency’s Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards.

Another relatively recent app release from NIOSH is “ErgoMine,” a mobile app for ergonomic audits in the mining industry. ErgoMine provides ergonomic assessments for three types of mining operations: bagging, maintenance and repair, and haul truck operations. Mine workers who do not have formal ergonomics training can use the new app as a tool for auditing their workplaces and for identifying issues with workplace conditions or how work is performed.

Not to be outdone, the NIOSH Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Research Program recently updated Elements of Ergonomics Programs, a guide intended to help employers, workers, and others design effective ergonomics programs to prevent work-related MSDs. Elements of Ergonomics Programs was originally published in 1997. The updated version describes practical strategies for identifying and correcting ergonomic deficiencies in a variety of workplace settings, and allows users to tailor the information to their particular work situations.

We know that one particular work situation that continues to interest Synergist readers is the office environment. One of the most popular articles in The Synergist this year asked, What are the benefits and challenges of sit-stand workstations? “The obvious solution to offset the hazards of prolonged sitting is to stand and move,” write Marjorie Werrell, president of ERGOWORKS Consulting, LLC, and Cathy White, a global EH&S project leader at the Dow Chemical Company, in the May 2017 Synergist. “The challenge in the work environment is how to maintain health without sitting all day or standing all day.” The article by Werrell and White, “Ups and Downs,” describes various ways to approach this issue—from simple work practices to engineering controls.

The Synergist team wants to know: what ergonomics-related topics would you be interested in reading about in The Synergist magazine or AIHA’s e-newsletter, The Synergist Weekly?

Kay Bechtold is assistant editor of The Synergist. 


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