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A sustainable development of a country or even a city, industry has been playing an irreplaceable important role. A steady development of Industrial need a large workforce, and for this reason, industry is driving local employment status to promote economic development. While steady development of Industrial has a positive impact to the local area, it also has a negative impact at the same time, this is “the problem of industrial Injuries”. Different types of industries, whether heavy industry or light industry, including manufacturing, construction, energy, mining, and so on, involve manual handling, hand-held or large-scale mechanical operation. These processes produce different forms, categories and different levels of potential risk to workers. The problem of industrial injury has always been a stumbling block to local development, the losses include loss of working times, related compensation and litigation, etc. , it’s a huge number that unimaginable. To this end, all over the world are committed to study the effective prevention of industrial accidents in the way to prevent the occurrence of industrial injuries. Over time, continuous research has led to significant results in the prevention of industrial injury. The institutions and executives have been introducing and issuing different types of statements, guidelines and so on, with the aim of promoting the results of the study and relevant data to the industry through these publications, with a view to further improving the industrial safety Index.
And one of the topics, “Human Factors and Ergonomics, ” is worth the time to understand its content, while the Health and Safety Executive, UK issued a bulletin in 2007 with the topic “Understanding Ergonomics at Work”, the header of the bulletin became a research topic of the BSc (hons) Occupational Safety, Health and Environment’s course assignment of a prestigious university in UK. The content of the header is “Reduce accidents and ill health and increase productivity by fitting the task to the worker”. With this topic, there are rooms to discuss, whether it is the ideal situation by fitting the task to the worker, does it really can reduce accidents and ill health and increase productivity?
Referring to the reference of “A Brief History of Human Factors and Ergonomics”, the first or the basic concept of human factors and ergonomics is considered during 1939-1945 in World War II. The data shows that many human factors and ergonomic advances are because of the needed of military. Before the World War II, the machine, e. g. fighter was designed base on the concept of “designing the human to fit the machine” instead of “designing machine to fit the human”. With continuous research and development the previous decades, and the times flied, it has evolved into a current subject – Human Factors and Ergonomics.
Almost seven decades after the World War II, the first originated of Human Factors and Ergonomics. Many studies and researches were done and published, but there are still no concrete answer for the question – is it the ideal situation by fitting the task to the worker? Does it really reduce accidents and ill health and increase productivity? Referring to the bulletin issued by the Health and Safety Executive, UK with the topic “Understanding Ergonomics at Work”, it described the ergonomics means a science concerned with the “fit” between people and the work, aims to maintain and improve health and safety by using ergonomics. It considers the capabilities and limitations of the worker, make sure the tasks, equipment and the working environment suit for workers. Ergonomists consider below aspects, assessing the fit between worker and the work. It includes:
With the above concern to design a comprehensive working program in order to make both the work fit to workers and the workers fit to the work at the same time, this is the ideal situation. In Hong Kong, there are quite a numbers of regulation, Codes of Practice and guidance notes relevant to the ergonomics but represented in a different ways, such as “Factories and Industrial Undertakings Regulations”, it stated that all worker working in a construction site must complete a mandatory safety training course and holding a valid certificate, it also mentioned the requirement of medical examinations of persons employed to some specific works, and “Construction Sites (Safety) Regulations”, it clearly stated the requirement of trained and competent workmen to operate mechanical equipment, “Guidance Notes on Manual Handling Operation” and “Occupational Safety and Health (Display Screen Equipment) Regulation” which published by Occupational Safety and Health Branch – Labour Department, HK, it explain the various sections on manual handling operations and the requirement of display screen equipment in the Occupational Safety and Health Regulation, and it also covers the aspects of hazard identification, risk assessment and risk control. It aims to ensure the knowledge, experience and competence of worker, make “the worker fit for the work”. And, for the laws and regulations to ensure “fitting the work to the workers”, we have, e. g. “Guidance Notes on Factories and Industrial Undertakings (Noise at Work) Regulation”, multi parts of “Construction Site (Safety) Regulation” stated the requirements of ventilation, lighting and physical housekeeping in even construction site and workplace. In the above sample, we can see that most of aforesaid regulations, guidance notes are representing the ergonomics but in a different pattern. How come quite numbers of regulations and guidance notes focus on the ergonomics at work? If you review the injury cases, you would find that a huge number of cases are avoidable.
Going back to the bulletin with the topic “Understanding Ergonomics at Work” published in UK in 2007, there are some case studies analysing the root cause of each case and its solution, and the bulletin also stated the result of the modifications. In case study 1, the worker worked in a poor working environment making him worked in a poor postures, after some time on the job, he suffering his shoulder and neck pain. After the modifications of the work setting, the problem solved. In case study 2, the worker suffered an aching shoulder and neck, and with sore eyes and a headache due to awkward, static, strained posture, and glare and reflections form light through the window. After the modifications by providing hands-fee telephone headset, rearranging the workstation and provided periodical DSE training sessions to let workers aware of the health problems associated with computer use and how to prevent them by adjust the chairs and rearrange the workstation, end up, the worker’s health problems diminished. From the above case study, we knew that safety and health working environment can be established by a very easy way, this is the ultimate meaning of the content of the header is “Reduce accidents and ill health and increase productivity by fitting the task to the worker”.
Of course, in some situations, it is quite difficult, or sometimes, may be impossible to modify the working area to fit to all workers because of the limitation of existing environment. In this time, we need to think very carefully since in the extreme environment that no modifications can be made, it probable hidden with much potential hazard to worker. Thus, it is very important to make it balance, we need to consider “fitting the work to worker” and “fit worker to the work” which one is more suitable, by assessing the fit between worker and the work, assessing the physical aspects of worker and psychological aspects of worker should also be taken into account.
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