Recent case studies
Brief, interesting details about ergonomics work being done in Australia.
Project details here are made available by Mark Dohrmann and Partners - consulting engineers and ergonomists - contact us for further information. Australian enquirers: ring 03 9376 1844.
A longer list of completed projects (by type) is also available here but first, check the following ten examples:
1. Office buildings for the 21st century
The National Australia Bank's eye-catching new headquarters at Victoria Harbour, Docklands, Melbourne, is at the cutting edge of 21st century workplace design. It's about human interaction and communication. Everybody gets a view ... no private offices, just different kinds of meeting places. You can see people working and meeting, wherever you are. Email traffic is down. As project ergonomists we worked on defining six workstyles and married furniture, high-tech office equipment, layout and processes to a wonderful multi-level workspace.
Now we're helping the Westpac Bank move several thousand of their staff into a sparkling new building in central Sydney. The ergonomics brief: ensure that everybody's workstation and workgroup meets exacting standards of comfort, safety and efficiency. Research and consultation has again identified several discrete workstyles, and work clusters are being developed to match them, as well as accommodating the latest electronic and storage technologies.
2. Customer service
We prepared advice on the ergonomic profiling of customer service points in betting shops, where interactive contact between the selling agent and the customer involves touchscreens, pads, cash security, ticket issue and slip reading under tight constraints of urgency. They sell right up until the horses "jump", nationwide.
3. Training people to look after themselves
Two city-based organisations - one state government and the other a public company - engaged us to assess the ergonomic standards of their multi-floor offices. We suggested that the client in each case take an extra step and train their own staff to become their consultants. This training took the form of presentations to small workgroups followed by questionnaires on comfort, layout and workflow. Each person was then followed up with personal visit and tutorial addressing their needs. This ensured they had adequate knowledge to attend to their own needs in the future. These projects have added permanent value to the knowledge and skills base in each organisation.
4. Theatres and Concert Halls
The beautiful shimmering sets we see at the opera, the ballet or the theatre can actually be very heavy, and they are usually shifted manually by stage "mechanists" in difficult and time-constrained conditions. We have been looking at systems to re-engineer the design of sets to help them be moved safely and quickly.
5. Food Distribution
A national snack food distributor engaged us to investigate and advise on the design of the floors and steps of delivery vans, with the specific aim of reducing slip risks for each driver/salesman. We have been involved in a number of truck cabin designs, however, this was the first time our primary focus was the back end of the vehicle. We were able to source excellent surfacing materials and have designed new stick-on warning signs.
6. The ergonomics of parking fines
We have helped parking officers in several municipalities learn to use their hand-held ticket-issuing equipment without incurring strain injuries or discomfort. Some modifications were developed. The biggest challenge was arranging safe work at night, in the absence of back-lit facilities on the equipment. You'll be glad to know that we scored a ticket ourselves while parked on one of these assignments. And yes, we paid it.
7. Full-on height-adjustable desk design
We designed a new multi-purpose interview desk for one of the larger Commonwealth departments. The "K" desk environment was carefully considered: partitions, a counter, windows and storage. The K desk is based on sound engineering principles. It has three thin, strategically-positioned hydraulic cylinders and one small mechanical pump which is used to position the desk at its required height. The height adjustment mechanism can raise and lower the fully-loaded desk (including its return) with little effort. The K has been well received, and is now being built by three companies and installed in a multitude of locations. We were all very pleased with the outcome.
8. Air Traffic Controllers
Mark Dohrmann and Partners provided extensive ergonomics input to the TAAATS Project - Australia's mega-million dollar investment in an advanced air traffic control system for the next decade. The work led to an award-winning console. Lighting, displays, seating and layout - a critical job, where rigorous ergonomics is centrally important.
Our training assignments have been with a variety of industry groups. Topics include ergonomics, safety/risk management, posture, lighting, furniture selection. The most popular topic has been "Strain - the invisible hazard". There is a growing awareness in office-based ergonomics that ergonomics cuts across power barriers: it affects everybody in the office from the receptionist to the boss.
10. The Law
Mark reports : "We conduct many investigations for both plaintiffs and defendants in personal injury cases. Aside from the great focussing-of-the mind effect induced by cross-examination in court, litigation experience equips us to better advise employer clients of their legal obligations. What the courts determine as "appropriate standards of care" is something all safety managers need to be up-to-date on.
Recent cases we have been involved in include a carpenter who injured his back rotating a heavy bar table whilst fitting out the members' bar in Government House, Canberra (lesson: there is simple equipment which should be made available to rotate heavy item such as these).
A forklift driver injured in the neck and back by constant bumping over rough ground (lesson: replace solid tyres at the recommended intervals; don't allow neck-injured people to work in jobs where they have to crane and look upwards repeatedly; and install proper vibration-isolating seats)
A nurse slipped on some spilt cereal while serving breakfast (lesson: don't let erratic patients walk around - and interestingly, we now know the difference in traction between milk and water, and the different effects of various floor polishes) ".