Communicating Ergonomics and the Interaction of Ergonomics Research and Practice

Presenter: Rob Tannen, Ph.D., CPE
Stand-Up Ergonomics: Communicating Human Factors to Designers and the Public

Knowledge and expectations of ergonomics and usability are higher than ever for both the designers and end-users of products/systems. Everyone wants their next product to be “as easy as an iPhone,” although they can’t necessarily define what that means. As ergonomists, we need to increase the visibility and quality of our communication with these stakeholders by presenting our expertise in understandable and actionable forms. I will discuss these issues based on my experiences from the following three perspectives:

  • Evidence-Based Ergonomics – utilizing theory and data to support the marketing of measurably improved products
  • Ergonomics for Interaction Designers – adapting traditional ergonomic principles to introduce digital interface designers to the increasing relevance of physical interactions
  • Ergonomics for the Design Public – creating ergonomics content for public-facing design media including FastCompany.com and Design Bureau magazine.

The common thread of these three perspectives is that the effective communication of ergonomic principles and concepts must be targeted to audience needs, interests and understanding.

Presenter: Patrick G. Dempsey, Ph.D., CPE 
From Research to Practice in the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders

Research and practice to prevent work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) have made significant progress over the past few decades but there remain questions about how best to prevent MSDs and how to minimize the burden of MSDs that do occur. As research and practice have continued to develop, so has the relationship between researchers and practitioners. Inherent in this relationship is tension between the constraints of research and practice. Practitioners often have expectations for time frames that may exceed the time required to develop and carry out research and researchers often have expectations for the level of expertise and sophistication of proposed ergonomics analysis methods. The situation has parallels with product design when designers and users have different expectations for what and how a product will be used. A current project in the Office of Mine Safety & Health Research of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to develop ergonomics audits for several types of mining operations will be used to illustrate an approach to research that incorporates practical constraints into the development of the tool. The approach to building in reliability and validity without adding complexity for the user will be described. Suggestions for developing and evaluating ergonomics audits will be provided.

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