The purpose of the ergonomics rotation in occupational therapy (OT) is to provide an overview of ergonomics design principles and occupational risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Particular emphasis will be placed on the recognition and prevention/control of MSDs through analysis and design of the workplace, tasks, tools and equipment. The rotation is structured to include lectures, interactive discussions, a workplace evaluation and projects designed to assist with the application of the covered materials
Ergonomics Rotation Objectives
Upon completion of the ergonomics rotation, the intern will:
- Understand the interactions of the worker/soldier, workplace, and job tasks and how these interactions impact MSDs.
- Articulate the definition of ergonomics and the value of ergonomics in the workplace.
- Demonstrate an ability to recognize ergonomic risk factors in the design of the workplace, task, tools and equipment.
- Understand basic ergonomic design principles and demonstrate an ability to make ergonomic design recommendations for different military environments (garrison, field, and deployment).
- Use knowledge of ergonomics in a clinical context and military environment (U.S. Army Forces Command (FORSCOM)/U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC)).
Ergonomics Rotation Requirements
The intern will complete three phases as follows:
Phase 1 – Introduction to Ergonomics Training
This phase is designed to provide an overview of ergonomics design principles and occupational risk factors for MSDs.
Scheduled length: 5 days.
General topics include overview of MSDs, definition of ergonomics, ergonomic risk factors, ergonomic control methods, anthropometrics, biomechanics, materials handling, office ergonomics, psychosocial issues, tools and equipment considerations, task analysis, and workplace evaluation.
Special topics include program development (needs assessment), professional development (ergonomics leadership), and current ergonomic projects overview.
Phase 1 Intern Requirement: The intern is required to complete a workplace evaluation and written report.
Phase 2 – Applied Ergonomics (Clinical Application)
This phase is designed to facilitate the application of materials covered in phase 1 as part of the OT evaluation process in the treatment of an MSD (i.e., carpal tunnel, tendonitis). This phase may be completed during the orthopedics rotation.
Scheduled length: variable
Phase 2 Intern Requirement: The intern is required to complete a workplace evaluation in conjunction with an evaluation of a patient who is currently in the orthopedic/physical disability caseload. The intern will make recommendations for a design change or process change as part of the OT intervention and write a report of findings and recommendations.
Phase 3 – Applied Ergonomics (Task Analysis and Design Recommendation).
This phase is designed to assist the intern with applying principles of task analysis and provides an opportunity for the intern to communicate findings and recommendations for action.
Scheduled length: 1-2 days.
Phase 3 Intern Requirement: The intern is required to make a site visit to a TRADOC/ FORSCOM unit and complete a task analysis of a high-risk military occupational specialty. A written report of findings and recommendation for a tool or process design change is required. The intern will be required to make a formal presentation of his or her findings to TRADOC/ Senior Walter Reed Army Medical Center/Army Medical Department personnel.
This training deals with the principles of anthropometrics and the use of anthropometric information in design. Through interactive classroom lectures, group exercises, and group presentations, interns will be able to identify workstation design issues, job design issues, and resolve issues based on anthropometric data.
- Topics: definition and overview of applications, types of measurements, anthropometric variances, adjustment factors, design approaches, key design measurements, use of anthropometric tables, national and international data, and problem solving using anthropometric information.
- Objectives: understand what anthropometrics is and why it is important in ergonomics and understand the use of anthropometric tables.
This training deals with the principles of biomechanics, static and dynamic work and relevant research. Through interactive classroom lectures and demonstrations, interns will be able to identify relevant workplace and job design issues, and resolve issues based on knowledge of biomechanics and strength.
- Topics: biomechanics, mechanical advantages and disadvantages, static and dynamic work, muscular work , physiological principles, improving work efficiency, optimal use of muscle strength, aerobic work, aerobic capacities, and grasp strength and factors.
- Objectives: understand the benefits of neutral posture and understand the benefits of proper lifting techniques.
This training session deals with the analysis of individual components of the office environment and the identification of ergonomic solutions. Through interactive classroom lectures and demonstration, interns will be able to identify the risk factors present in the office, discuss the problems with each office component, and identify effective ergonomic solutions.
- Topics: cumulative trauma disorders in the office; risk factors present in the office; general anthropometric concepts; analysis of and solutions for each office component, including the desk, chair, footrest, monitor, keyboard, and mouse; chair feature analysis; vision problems such as lighting and glare; and current concerns in the office environment.
- Objectives: recognize the risk factors for work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) that exist in the office setting and identify ways to reduce WMSD risks in the office.
Manual Materials Handling
This training deals with the analysis of lifting and manual materials handling tasks. Through interactive classroom lectures and demonstrations, participants will be able to discuss the risk factors present in lifting and manual materials handling (MMH) tasks and identify ergonomic solutions to problems.
- Topics: overview of the anatomy of the back, risks involved in lifting and MMH, heavy work, energy consumption, case histories, using lift/other task tables, ergonomic solutions, MMH principles/examples, lifting task principles/examples, and proper body mechanics.
- Objectives: identify WMSD risks in MMH and identify engineering and administrative controls useful in reducing/eliminating MMH WMSD risks.
This training combines classroom and hands-on activities to introduce the basic concept of hand tool design and its influence on cumulative trauma disorders of the upper extremities. Interns will be able to assess hand tools based on tool size, shape, weight, and center of gravity.
- Topics: design of tools and equipment, how to choose the proper hand tool, effects of tool weight, and risk factors associated with hand tools.
- Objective: be able to recognize poor hand tool design and how the design contributes to MSDs.
Psychosocial Issues /Work/Rest Scheduling
This training introduces the basic concepts of occupational psychosocial factors, work organization factors, and work and rest cycles, and their impacts on MSDs. The intern will be able to understand the relationship of psychosocial factors in the workplace and MSDs and ways to incorporate rest cycles to minimize the effects of fatigue on the job.
- Topics: general information, occupational psychosocial factors, work organization factors, fatigue in industrial practice, measuring fatigue, work/rest cycles and productivity, preventing fatigue, fatigue versus boredom, job design to avoid monotonous tasks, night work, and shift work.
- Objective: be able to identify psychosocial factors in the workplace that may contribute to MSDs.
Upper Extremity Musculoskeletal Disorders
This training is designed to familiarize participants with upper extremity MSDs. Interns will be able to determine which risk factors are present at a job site and how the risks factors are affecting upper extremity body parts.
- Topics: defining MSDs, personal and job risk factors, types of injuries, and troubleshooting.
- Objective: Be able to identify risk factors in the workplace that may attribute to upper extremity MSDs.
Ergonomics training for Army occupational therapy interns is offered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. If you are interested in upcoming training, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.