1
Fire Fighting Ergonomics
Eric F Shaver, PhD
ericshaver.com @ericshaver
2
Overview
• Goals of the Presentation
• Overview of HFE
• CTD Fundamentals
• Why is Ergonomics Important for Fire Fightin...
3
Goals of the Presentation
• Understand the importance of ergonomics to fire
fighting.
• Learn about CTDs (e.g., what the...
4
Introduction to
Human Factors & Ergonomics
5
What is HFE?
Human factors & ergonomics (HFE) is a unique
scientific discipline that systematically applies the
knowledg...
6
What is HFE?, cont.
• Notice I refer to it as “human factors & ergonomics”
instead of just ergonomics.
• Both terms are ...
7
What is HFE?, cont.
Human factors are relevant anywhere people work
with systems, whether they are social or technical i...
8
Origins of HFE
Human
Factors &
Ergonomics
Psychology
Anthropology
Applied
Physiology
Environmental
Medicine
Engineering
...
9
Origins of HFE, cont.
• In the U.S., HFE is generally considered to have
originated during WWII.
• But, advances that co...
10
Industries Benefiting from HFE
• Aerospace
• Automotive
• Chemical
• Computer
• Consumer products
• Construction
• Defe...
11
What Value Does HFE Add?
• Increased
• Safety & health
• Quality
• Productivity
• Ease of learning & use
• Satisfaction...
12
Fundamentals of
Cumulative Trauma Disorders
13
Overview
• What are CTDs
• Types of CTDs
• Symptoms of CTDs
• Ergonomic Risk Factors for CTDs
• Reporting Suspected CTDs
14
What are CTDs?
• Cumulative Trauma Disorders
• Work-related disorders and diseases of the musculoskeletal
system that d...
15
Where can CTDs Develop?
• Often occur in the upper body, but can manifest
anywhere.
16
Types of CTDs
• Tendon-related:
• Tendinitis: inflammation of a tendon
• Tenosynovitis: inflammation of the lining of t...
17
Types of CTDs, cont.
• Nerve-related:
• Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: median nerve entrapment that
causes pain, tingling, and...
18
Types of CTDs, cont.
• Muscle-related:
• Sprain: an injury to a joint (e.g., shoulder, knee, etc.)
• Strain: an injury ...
19
Types of CTDs, cont.
• Circulatory/Vascular-related:
• Raynaud’s Syndrome: a.k.a., vibration-induced white
finger; disc...
20
Symptoms of CTDs
• Muscle tightness & fatigue
• Soreness, pain, and discomfort
• Joint stiffness / popping & cracking
•...
21
Ergonomic Risk Factors for CTDs
• Heavy Weights / Forceful Exertions
• Awkward Postures
• Contact Stress (Localized)
• ...
22
Heavy Weights / Forceful Exertions
• Heavy weights are physically taxing & potentially
damaging to the body.
• Forceful...
23
Awkward Postures
• Awkward postures are those that move the body
away from vertical position. These postures include:
•...
24
Awkward Postures, cont.
• These postures can be:
• Static (e.g., bent over holding a hose)
• Dynamic (e.g., lifting or ...
25
Contact Stress (Localized)
• Examples
• Contact with unpadded, sharp edge
• Grasping small diameter tools requiring hig...
26
High Repetition / Prolonged Activity
• Repetition often combines with other risk factors.
• Highly repetitive tasks aff...
27
Excessive Vibration
• Two types:
• Partial Body: typically originates in the hand or arm
• Whole Body: originates from ...
28
Excessive Vibration, cont.
• Whole Body
• < 1Hz = Seasickness
• 1 and 100Hz (especially between 4 & 8 Hz)
• Chest pain
...
29
Insufficient Recovery Time
• Examples
• Short or no rest breaks
• Lack of sleep
• Continuous days of work without day(s...
30
Environmental Stressors
• Types:
• Excessive noise
• Extreme heat or cold
• Chemicals
• Inappropriate illumination
31
Why is Ergonomics Important for
the Fire Fighting Profession?
32
Ergonomics & Fire Fighting
• Ergonomic hazards can be present during:
• Fire fighting operations
• EMS calls
• Training...
33
Fire Fighting Ergonomics Program
34
Overview
• Phase 1: Planning
• Phase 2: Identify & Analyze Ergonomic Hazards
• Phase 3: Develop & Implement Ergonomic H...
35
Ergonomics Program, cont.
• Phase 1: Planning
• Create an Ergonomic Committee
• Develop a timeline
• Identify areas to ...
36
Ergonomics Program, cont.
• Phase 3: Develop & Implement Ergonomic Hazard
Controls
• Engineering controls
• Administrat...
37
Ergonomics Program, cont.
• Phase 5: Monitoring & Periodic Evaluation
• On a quarterly basis:
• Ergonomic committee sho...
38
Ergonomics Program, cont.
• Phase 5: Monitoring & Periodic Evaluation, cont.
• On a yearly basis:
• Have an outside erg...
39
Take Home Message
• Ergonomics is important for fire fighter safety & health.
• CTDs often aren’t diagnosed early enoug...
40
Resources
• FEMA (1996, March). Fire and emergency medical
services ergonomics: A guide for understanding and
implement...
41
Resources, cont.
42
Author Biography
Dr. Shaver is a human factors professional working in the
medical technology industry. Previously he w...
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Fire Fighting Ergonomics

  1. 1. 1 Fire Fighting Ergonomics Eric F Shaver, PhD ericshaver.com @ericshaver
  2. 2. 2 Overview • Goals of the Presentation • Overview of HFE • CTD Fundamentals • Why is Ergonomics Important for Fire Fighting? • Fire Fighting Ergonomics Program
  3. 3. 3 Goals of the Presentation • Understand the importance of ergonomics to fire fighting. • Learn about CTDs (e.g., what they are; types; symptoms, etc.). • Know the process for reporting ergonomic risk factors & CTDs. • Understand the importance of implementing an Ergonomics Program.
  4. 4. 4 Introduction to Human Factors & Ergonomics
  5. 5. 5 What is HFE? Human factors & ergonomics (HFE) is a unique scientific discipline that systematically applies the knowledge of human abilities and limitations to the design of systems with the goal of optimizing the interaction between people and other system elements to enhance safety, performance, and satisfaction. In simpler terms, HFE focuses on designing the world to better accommodate people.
  6. 6. 6 What is HFE?, cont. • Notice I refer to it as “human factors & ergonomics” instead of just ergonomics. • Both terms are used interchangeably. I prefer to combine them. • Ergonomics is a Greek word meaning: • Ergo = “work” • Nomos = “law” • In a literal sense, it means “work laws.”
  7. 7. 7 What is HFE?, cont. Human factors are relevant anywhere people work with systems, whether they are social or technical in nature. The breadth of these sociotechnical systems include situations and circumstances where individuals interact with other system elements including: • People • Technology • Tasks • Organizations • Environments
  8. 8. 8 Origins of HFE Human Factors & Ergonomics Psychology Anthropology Applied Physiology Environmental Medicine Engineering Computer Science Statistics Operations Research Industrial Design
  9. 9. 9 Origins of HFE, cont. • In the U.S., HFE is generally considered to have originated during WWII. • But, advances that contributed to its formation can be traced to the turn of the 20th century. • HFE started in the military, but expanded into most industries, including fire fighting (wildland & structural).
  10. 10. 10 Industries Benefiting from HFE • Aerospace • Automotive • Chemical • Computer • Consumer products • Construction • Defense • Forestry • Health care • Manufacturing • Mining • Nuclear • Petroleum • Telecommunications • Textile
  11. 11. 11 What Value Does HFE Add? • Increased • Safety & health • Quality • Productivity • Ease of learning & use • Satisfaction, trust & loyalty • User experience & engagement • Sales & market share • Decreased • Deaths, injuries & illnesses • Accidents • Error rates • Absenteeism & turnover • Training time • Development costs • Need for redesign & recall • Support & services costs • Equipment damages • Maintenance costs
  12. 12. 12 Fundamentals of Cumulative Trauma Disorders
  13. 13. 13 Overview • What are CTDs • Types of CTDs • Symptoms of CTDs • Ergonomic Risk Factors for CTDs • Reporting Suspected CTDs
  14. 14. 14 What are CTDs? • Cumulative Trauma Disorders • Work-related disorders and diseases of the musculoskeletal system that develop overtime as a result of repeated stresses. • Also, goes by: • WMSD (Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders) • RMI (Repetitive Motion Injury) • RSI (Repetitive Stress / Strain Injury) • OOS (occupational Overuse Syndrome)
  15. 15. 15 Where can CTDs Develop? • Often occur in the upper body, but can manifest anywhere.
  16. 16. 16 Types of CTDs • Tendon-related: • Tendinitis: inflammation of a tendon • Tenosynovitis: inflammation of the lining of the sheath that surrounds a tendon • Trigger Finger (or Thumb): fingers or thumb to catch or lock in a bent position due to tendon inflammation
  17. 17. 17 Types of CTDs, cont. • Nerve-related: • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: median nerve entrapment that causes pain, tingling, and numbness of the hand • Digital Neuritis: Inflammation of the nerves in the fingers caused by repeated contact or continuous pressure • Joint-related: • Osteoarthritis: “wear and tear” arthritis; Degenerative Joint Disease
  18. 18. 18 Types of CTDs, cont. • Muscle-related: • Sprain: an injury to a joint (e.g., shoulder, knee, etc.) • Strain: an injury to a muscle or tendon (e.g., back) • Myalgia: muscle pain due to overuse or being over- stretched • Tension Neck Syndrome: soreness due to static loading or tenseness of neck muscles.
  19. 19. 19 Types of CTDs, cont. • Circulatory/Vascular-related: • Raynaud’s Syndrome: a.k.a., vibration-induced white finger; discoloration of the fingers due to extreme vasoconstriction. • Bursa-related: • Joint Bursitis: inflammation of the fluid-filled sac (bursa) that lies between a tendon and skin, or between a tendon and bone
  20. 20. 20 Symptoms of CTDs • Muscle tightness & fatigue • Soreness, pain, and discomfort • Joint stiffness / popping & cracking • Limited range of motion • Numbness / tingling sensations • Burning sensations • Swelling & redness • Weakness / loss of strength • Coordination problems / clumsiness
  21. 21. 21 Ergonomic Risk Factors for CTDs • Heavy Weights / Forceful Exertions • Awkward Postures • Contact Stress (Localized) • High Repetition / Prolonged Activities • Excessive Vibration (Part or Whole Body) • Insufficient Recovery Time • Environmental Stressors
  22. 22. 22 Heavy Weights / Forceful Exertions • Heavy weights are physically taxing & potentially damaging to the body. • Forceful exertions are often used to overcome the inability of normal muscular strength to move or dislodge a large object. • Can lead to sprains, strains, soft tissue contact injuries.
  23. 23. 23 Awkward Postures • Awkward postures are those that move the body away from vertical position. These postures include: • Lateral bending or twisting at the waist (e.g., twisting to lift an object or avoid an obstacle); • Movement of the hands and arms above shoulder level (e.g., lifting, moving or holding); • Loads on the hands when the arms are extended (e.g., holding or moving objects at arm length); • Positions of the head not aligned with the body (e.g., overhead work, low or high monitors, etc.); and • Bent hand/wrist positions.
  24. 24. 24 Awkward Postures, cont. • These postures can be: • Static (e.g., bent over holding a hose) • Dynamic (e.g., lifting or moving objects) • Static postures create mechanical and metabolic loads. • Mechanically, static loads: • Strain muscle and connective tissue • Metabolically, static loads: • Reduce or exclude blood flow • Produce local muscle fatigue
  25. 25. 25 Contact Stress (Localized) • Examples • Contact with unpadded, sharp edge • Grasping small diameter tools requiring high forces • Using body part as a striking tool • It can: • Reduce blood flow • Compress body tissue • Increase body friction • Promote tissue inflammation
  26. 26. 26 High Repetition / Prolonged Activity • Repetition often combines with other risk factors. • Highly repetitive tasks affect the mechanical parts of the body (e.g., muscles, tendons, ligaments) and the body’s physiologic functions. • Higher rates of work require more muscle activity, force and recovery time.
  27. 27. 27 Excessive Vibration • Two types: • Partial Body: typically originates in the hand or arm • Whole Body: originates from the feet (standing work) or buttocks/back (seated work) • Assessed by: • Level (m/s) • Frequency (Hz) • Exposure duration
  28. 28. 28 Excessive Vibration, cont. • Whole Body • < 1Hz = Seasickness • 1 and 100Hz (especially between 4 & 8 Hz) • Chest pain • Difficulty breathing • Low back pain • Impaired vision • Partial Body • 8 and 1000Hz • Reduction in finger sensitivity and dexterity • Muscle, joint, and bone disorders • Vibration-induced white finger
  29. 29. 29 Insufficient Recovery Time • Examples • Short or no rest breaks • Lack of sleep • Continuous days of work without day(s) off • Injuries & illnesses not being allowed to properly heal • Results • Fatigue • Re-injury • Errors (slips, lapses, & mistakes)
  30. 30. 30 Environmental Stressors • Types: • Excessive noise • Extreme heat or cold • Chemicals • Inappropriate illumination
  31. 31. 31 Why is Ergonomics Important for the Fire Fighting Profession?
  32. 32. 32 Ergonomics & Fire Fighting • Ergonomic hazards can be present during: • Fire fighting operations • EMS calls • Training & drills • Physical exercise • Station activates • One potential solution is to design, develop, and deploy a quality ergonomics program.
  33. 33. 33 Fire Fighting Ergonomics Program
  34. 34. 34 Overview • Phase 1: Planning • Phase 2: Identify & Analyze Ergonomic Hazards • Phase 3: Develop & Implement Ergonomic Hazard Controls • Phase 4: Final Approval & Documentation • Phase 5: Monitoring & Periodic Evaluation • Phase 6: Training
  35. 35. 35 Ergonomics Program, cont. • Phase 1: Planning • Create an Ergonomic Committee • Develop a timeline • Identify areas to address • Phase 2: Identify & Analyze Ergonomic Hazards • Facilities Review • Vehicles & Equipment Review • PPE Review • Records Review • Personnel Interviews
  36. 36. 36 Ergonomics Program, cont. • Phase 3: Develop & Implement Ergonomic Hazard Controls • Engineering controls • Administrative controls • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) • Warning signs & Labels • Training • Phase 4: Final Approval & Documentation • Documents what occurred during Phases 1 – 3
  37. 37. 37 Ergonomics Program, cont. • Phase 5: Monitoring & Periodic Evaluation • On a quarterly basis: • Ergonomic committee should meet to assess new developments. • Review all completed “Ergonomics Symptom Survey” forms. • Review any pertinent accident & incident forms. • Interview impacted employees. • Identify ergonomic hazard(s). • Remove or mitigate ergonomic hazard(s). • Document process and findings.
  38. 38. 38 Ergonomics Program, cont. • Phase 5: Monitoring & Periodic Evaluation, cont. • On a yearly basis: • Have an outside ergonomics professional review your progress. • If necessary, implement changes to the ergonomics program & educate personnel about the changes. • On an “as needed” basis: • If a pressing ergonomic issue arises, address it immediately. • Complete all steps listed in “On a quarterly basis.” • Phase 6: Training • Educate fire fighters about the importance of ergonomics.
  39. 39. 39 Take Home Message • Ergonomics is important for fire fighter safety & health. • CTDs often aren’t diagnosed early enough or go undiagnosed. • Numerous ergonomic risk factors contribute to CTDs development. • A quality ergonomics program can assist in identifying & removing ergonomic hazards often missed by typical safety programs.
  40. 40. 40 Resources • FEMA (1996, March). Fire and emergency medical services ergonomics: A guide for understanding and implementing an ergonomics program in your department • http://www.usfa.fema.gov/downloads/pdf/publications/f a-161.pdf • NIOSH (1997, March). Elements of ergonomics programs: A primer based on workplace evaluations of musculoskeletal disorders. • http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/97-117/pdfs/97-117.pdf
  41. 41. 41 Resources, cont.
  42. 42. 42 Author Biography Dr. Shaver is a human factors professional working in the medical technology industry. Previously he worked as a consultant in a variety of industries, including structural and wildland fire fighting. Dr. Shaver's work has emphasized achieving an optimal fit between people, technology, and work systems to facilitate safety, performance, and satisfaction. A specific focus has centered on bridging the research- practice gap by synthesizing and disseminating the latest scientific findings about human capabilities and limitations to the design, development, implementation, use, and evaluation of technology.
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