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Evaluating the ambulance patient compartment as a work environment using digital human modeling tools.

Ammons-D; Green-J; Isaacs-A; Moore-P; Whisler-R; White-J
NOIRS 2008-Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium, October 21-23, 2008, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Morgantown, WV: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 2008 Oct; :H2.1
Introduction: Seat belts provided in most U.S. ambulances today do not allow emergency medical service (EMS) workers the mobility required to care for patients. As a result, EMS workers routinely work unrestrained in the patient compartment, daily risking their safety and health in the care of others. The use of mobile restraints, as previously tested by NIOSH, or the redesign of the workspace, as was done by the Winter Park (Florida) Fire and Rescue Department, offer opportunities to improve worker safety. Methods: This research used digital human modeling tools to evaluate reach in both of these unique work environments. A matrix was developed to test three digital human body sizes, in two different work environments, each outfitted with two different restraint types: one fixed and one that allowed mobility. Each digital human then attempted to grab five different patient or equipment targets while remaining restrained. The underlying premise is that it is better to be restrained than unrestrained, and further, it is better to be restrained and seated than restrained but out of the seat. Results: This study confirmed that severe limitations exist in today's ambulance environment as workers cannot reach the patient, or needed equipment, using the restraints provided. While mobile restraints offered a viable solution to this problem, the current configuration requires the worker to move substantial distances from the safety of the seat. The reconfigured workspace offered the worker a greater opportunity to remain seated during patient care tasks though it alone did not solve all reach issues. With the addition of mobile restraint technology the models demonstrate the value of both changes. Conclusions: Incremental improvement in worker safety can be achieved through innovative uses of mobile restraint systems in conjunction with the thoughtful placement and positioning of the worker, patient, and patient care equipment.
Accident-prevention; Accidents; Control-technology; Equipment-design; Ergonomics; Human-factors-engineering; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Mechanical-properties; Medical-care; Medical-rescue-services; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-exposure; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-health-services; Posture; Rescue-workers; Safety-belts; Safety-engineering; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-research; Vibration-effects; Vibration-exposure; Work-analysis; Work-environment; Worker-health; Work-operations; Workplace-studies; Work-practices; Surveillance
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NOIRS 2008-Abstracts of the National Occupational Injury Research Symposium, October 21-23, 2008, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania