Making the Case for Ergonomics and Where It Stands in Mobile Technology

View business case presentation | View mobile computing presentation | View recording 

This webinar features two presentations previewing content that will be presented at the Applied Ergonomics Conference 2014 in Orlando, Fla., in March.

Presenters: Rick Goggins, ergonomist for the Washington State Department of Labor, and Jack Dennerlein, professor in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University and adjunct professor of ergonomics and safety at the Harvard School of Public Health 

The Business Case for Ergonomics

Most of us are comfortable making the safety and health case for ergonomics in the workplace, but making the business case might be outside of our everyday skill set. There is a strong case to be made for the economics of ergonomics, however. And with the right tools and terminology we can all communicate that case more effectively. This presentation will:

  • Review the business case for ergonomics. 
  • Introduce some simple concepts in cost-benefit analysis. 
  • Connect you with some resources where you can learn more about this topic. 

The State of Ergonomics for Mobile Computing Technology

Mobile computing technology affords users (through their intended mobility) many different work environments that increase the opportunity for users to adopt postures and configurations outside of those recommended by many desktop computer guidelines. As a result, there is concern that these non-standard postures and configurations may increase risk of adverse outcomes and hence a need for usage guidelines. For mobile phone use, there are several case studies in the literature describing over usage and pain. There is a single epidemiologic study reporting association between duration of use, specifically texting, and pain at the base of the thumb. Laboratory and observational studies confirm that users adopt alternative postures when using mobile devices, often placing devices low on their laps requiring more flexion of the head. In addition the soft keyboards displayed on the touch screen do require less force; however, their use is often associated with more wrist extension. Approaches to mitigate potential discomfort with these devices include appropriate and well-designed accessories such as cases and external keyboards as well as minimizing the duration of use in any given configuration. The additional variability afforded by these devices may prove beneficial in the long run.

Rick Goggins, C.P.E., has been working as an ergonomist for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries for the past 18 years. Prior to that, he worked with Hughes Space and Communications’ Safety, Health and Environmental Affairs group in El Segundo, Calif. He has a master’s degree in ergonomics from the Institute of Safety and Systems Management at the University of Southern California.

Jack Dennerlein, Ph.D., is a professor in the Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern University as well as an adjunct professor of Ergonomics and Safety at the Harvard School of Public Health, both in Boston. Dennerlein has 20 years of research experience in ergonomics and safety with more than 100 peer-reviewed publications. His research encompasses how computing technology interacts with occupational biomechanics and the development of computer-related musculoskeletal disorders.