"Designs that are incompatible with normal anthropometric measurements of a workforce could result in undesired incidents," according to NIOSH. "The misfit of a heavy equipment cabin to a worker could produce operator blind spots that expose workers on foot to struck-by injuries. Inadequate length or configuration of seat belts could lead to non-use of seat belts, which will affect post-crash survivability. Inadequate fit of personal protective equipment cannot provide workers with sufficient protection from health and injury exposures."
Anthropometry is described as the science that defines physical measures of a person's size, form, and functional capacities. NIOSH is applying the most current three-dimensional digital scanning technology and developing and improving body shape quantification methods to advance anthropometry research, which has provided a variety of enhanced equipment design recommendations.
The current data on the size and shape of workers is "sparse at best," meaning safety researchers have had to rely on data drawn from studies undertaken years ago. Most current workers are anthropometrically very different.
Among the latest research projects are the following:
- Improved truck cab design through applied anthropometry. This project will establish an anthropometric database of U.S. truck drivers for the design of truck cabs that are more comfortable and safer to operate.A study of more than 900 truckers shows they are significantly different from truckers measured 25 to 30 years ago. Of 10 dimensions measured, eight were statistically different. Abdominal depth -- important for placing the steering wheel with respect to the seatback -- increased, as did overall body weight -- critical for structural seat design.
- Development of computer-aided face-fit evaluation methods. A nationwide anthropometric survey of the heads and faces of U.S. workers was conducted and new respirator fit test panels were developed. "The proliferation of minority populations in the U.S. workforce has increased the need to investigate differences in facial dimensions among these workers," NIOSH said. The researchers have found significant differences in facial anthropometric dimensions between males and females, all racial/ethnic groups and the subjects who were at least 45 years old compared to those between 18 and 29 years of age. The findings could have ramifications for the design of respirators.
- Harness design and sizing effectiveness. This project developed a whole-body fall-arrest harness sizing scheme and design to control hazards during falls from elevation. "Full-body, fall protection harnesses have been a critical work practice control technology for reducing the number of fall-related injuries and fatalities among construction workers; yet, very little is known about the fit of these harnesses to the population that wears them," NIOSH said.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 9, 2011
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