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An Attribute-based Approach for Assessing Ergonomic Risks

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000237288D
Publication Date: 2014-Jun-11
Document File: 3 page(s) / 71K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

A method for utilizing an attribute based approach for assessing ergonomic risks is disclosed.

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This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 50% of the total text.

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An Attribute-based Approach for Assessing Ergonomic Risks

Disclosed is a method for utilizing an attribute based approach for assessing ergonomic risks. A tool is developed to overcome the difficulty faced by people who cannot use ergonomic software that require extensive training. The tool provides for a comprehensive assessment of the different ergonomic risks in the workplace. Assessments include posture and force, workload, noise, illumination, vibration, and temperature. The basic approach for the assessment is called "partition aggregation" approach in which the workplace is divided into areas, the areas into process, and the processes into tasks. The ergonomic risks are assessed at the task level and then aggregated per process and then per area. The tool includes a survey based comfort assessment for employees and shows the overall satisfaction score on an ergonomic risk body map which is a color-coded map of body parts. The color on each body part represents the risk level: red->very high risk, brown->high risk, yellow->medium risk, and green->low risk. The tool also incorporates risk mitigation and provides the user with different mitigation strategies for the risk and then compare the risk before and after applying the mitigation strategy.

While introducing new products and processes, numerous techniques exist that are used to design them. However, they do not consider an important aspect of process design - ergonomic considerations.

Lean manufacturing activities and ergonomic assessment should be initiated synchronously. When a lean improvement team only focuses on improving the process without considering ergonomic issues, new ergonomic problems may be created. Even well designed manufacturing workstations can present ergonomic risks to the operators. These ergonomic risks can cause work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) such as repetitive motion injuries, cumulative trauma disorders, carpal tunnel syndrome, tension neck syndrome, low back pain, and soft tissue disorders. Workplace ergonomics and lean manufacturing are highly inter-related. Ergonomic risks can lead to lean wastes and vice versa. Furthermore, ergonomics can support lean transformation and lean transformation can lead to ergonomic risk reduction. High ergonomic risk can be used as an indicator of the existence of one or more lean wastes. For example, awkward postures and poor design of tools and equipment can lead to wasted motions that increase the time to perform tasks and reduce the quality of work. On the other hand, safe workplace can improve employee talent. Lean wastes can also create ergonomic risk factors. For example, defects can create fatigue to the operators and increase the overtime.

A decision support system is utilized that helps a team design a process considering both ergonomic and lean aspects simultaneously. Implementing lean techniques is based on five main steps: identify value, map value stream, create flow, establish pul...