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Course 722 - Ergonomics Program Management

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Design Strategies

Design strategies emphasize fitting job demands to the capabilities and limitations of workers. Deciding which functions can be done best by machines and which by people is a primary objective. For example, for tasks requiring heavy materials handling and transport, ready use of mechanical assist devices to reduce the need for manual handling would be designed into the process. Large-sized units could be broken into smaller, more manageable ones, and equipment could be selected that most helps the workers using it.

Design strategies try to target the causes of potential musculoskeletal problems. For this reason, engineering approaches are preferred over administrative ones because they eliminate the risk factors as opposed to simply reducing exposure to them. For example, having machines do monotonous, repetitive, forceful work is better than subjecting workers to these risk factors. Administrative controls (such as worker rotation or allowing more rest breaks) remain stop-gap measures. They are not permanent solutions.