Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tests show fastest way to board passenger planes

BBC Website 31 August 2011
The most common way of boarding passenger planes is among the least efficient, tests have shown.

Boarding those in window seats first followed by middle and aisle seats results in a 40% gain in efficiency. However, an approach called the Steffen method, alternating rows in the window-middle-aisle strategy, nearly doubles boarding speed. The approach is named after Jason Steffen, an astrophysicist at Fermi National Laboratory in Illinois, US. Dr Steffen first considered the thorny problem of plane boarding in 2008, when he found himself in a long boarding queue. He carried out a number of computer simulations to determine a better method than the typical "rear of the plane forwards" approach, publishing the results in the Journal of Air Transport Management.

The approach avoids a situation in which passengers are struggling to use the same physical space at the same time.

Only now, though, has the idea been put to the test. Jon Hotchkiss, a television producer making a show called This v That, began to consider the same problem of boarding efficiency and came across Dr Steffen's work. Mr Hotchkiss contacted Dr Steffen, offering to test the idea using a mock-up of a 757 aeroplane in Hollywood and 72 luggage-toting volunteers.

The block approach fared worst, with the strict back-to-front approach not much better. Interestingly, a completely random boarding - as practised by several low-cost airlines that have unallocated seating - fared much better, presumably because it randomly avoids space conflicts.

Birmingham hospital error paralysed Newport teenager

BBC Website 31 August 2011

A teenager was left paralysed from the waist down after a spinal anaesthetic was wrongly left in place for too long, a hospital has admitted.

A pain-killing epidural infusion was not removed for two days after gallstone surgery, permanently damaging her spinal cord. A day after the surgery the patient complained of leg numbness. The following day an MRI scan revealed that the anaesthetic had entered the spinal cord and damaged the membranes, paralysing her from the waist down.

The patient's solicitor called for lessons to be learned. He hoped the staff responsible had already been retrained so that similar "tragedies" could be avoided.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI) for Health and Safety

Taken from RapidBI website, published November 2007

* Cost of solved safety non-conformances for the month
* Employee perception of management commitment
* Health and safety prevention costs within the month
* Lost time (in hours) due to accidents (including fatalities) per e.g. 100,000 hours worked
* Lost time (in hours) due to non-fatal accidents per e.g. 100,000 hours worked
* Number of fatalities per e.g. 100,000 hours worked
* Number of non-conformance with legal or internal standards in safety inspections
* Number of reportable accidents per e.g. 100,000 hours worked (including fatalities)
* Number of reportable non-fatal accidents per e.g. 100,000 hours worked
* Number of safety inspections for the month
* Number of solved safety non-conformances for the month
* Percentage of attendance at occupational health and safety (OHS) committee meetings
* Percentage of corrective actions closed out within specified time-frame
* Percentage of fatal accidents relative to all accidents (non-fatal and fatal) per e.g. 100,000 hours worked
* Percentage of health and safety representatives (HSR) positions filled.
* Percentage of issues raised by H&S Reps actioned
* Percentage of occupational health and safety (OHS) committee recommendations implemented
* Percentage of products/services assessed for health & safety impacts
* Percentage of significant products and services categories subject to procedures in which health and safety impacts of products and services are assessed for improvement
* Percentage of staff with adequate occupational health and safety (OHS) training
* Total of hours in safety and health training in the month

Monday, August 29, 2011

Why should businesses invest in ergonomics?

Central Wisconsin Business 22 August 2011 - the Raikowski column

Statistics from the article:

* The Occupational Health and Safety Administration indicates that MSDs account for one-third of the 1.7 million occupational injuries and illnesses in the U.S. every year and represents its largest work-related injury and illness issue
* Including workers' compensation costs and factors such as restricted duty time, reduced worker productivity, and diminished work product and quality, OSHA estimates that MSDs annually cost the U.S. workforce $54 billion.
* The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reviewed hundreds of scientific studies. The estimated cost savings associated with averting a single musculoskeletal disorder-related workers' compensation claim is a whopping $22,546. This total includes the value of lost production, medical costs, insurance administrative costs, and indirect costs to employers.

The FOH cites examples of employers reporting positive returns on their ergonomics program investments including:

* Between 1992 and 1996, the New York Times reported that it reduced its workers' compensation claims by 84 percent, reduced lost work time by 75 percent and decreased lost workdays by 91 percent as a result of its ergonomics program.
* Intracorp reported that a public service company with 330 employees realized a return of $7.35 for every $1 invested in its ergonomics program.
* Northwest Aerospace Company realized a 10- to 15-percent increase in productivity (a benefit of greater than $200,000) following implementation of an ergonomics program.
* Jerome Foods Inc. reported saving $3 for every $1 invested in an ergonomics program.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Air traffic overhaul hinges on 'human factor'

CNN Website on 10 March 2011 by Thom Patterson

"Even amid the amazing technological achievements and wondrous capabilities of the 21st century, the most critical connection in the airline industry remains the same as it was at the birth of aviation: the human touch."

According to the article the role of the human factors engineer "is to ensure that information is being presented at the right time to a pilot and in the right form so that the human cognitive capabilities are not simply overwhelmed." In particular "What should you put in front of a pilot and in what form should that information be?"

Referring to new air traffic control technology called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) that allows pilots to see a real-time cockpit display that shows the locations of their aircraft and any surrounding aircraft. The challenge is to keep the human in the loop. The plan calls for pilots and air traffic controllers to share more information -- allowing them to better collaborate in avoiding mistakes. They have proven that the human remains in charge and pulls the whole system together, but it requires a rethink in the way information is processed and used.

Another system being developed is a very sophisticated kind of "text message." The aim is to cut confusion caused by misunderstood voice radio transmissions and to improve efficiency by "texting" routine information. Obviously, it is important to make sure this doesn't cause distraction. A lot of messages will be pre-programmed and sent by pilots with the touch of a single button.

Monday, August 15, 2011

$10 piece of equipment could’ve saved $128K in compensation benefits

HR Morning 11 August 2011 by Christian Schappel

The brief article illustrates the potential financial benefits of applying ergonomics. I would add that the employee in question also suffered significant physical harm.

"Angela Grott, a finance clerk at the Menard Correctional Center in Illinois had requested a headset for her phone. The reason: She often had to type while speaking on the phone. Her request was denied, and she carried on with her work — holding her phone receiver in the crook of her neck for hours at a time while typing."

Grott started to suffer from severe neck, shoulder and arm pain and headaches. She underwent surgery in an attempt to relieve her pain. The medical bills came to $128,424 for medical bills and Grott received $7,304 for 12 weeks of temporary disability pay. She may even be able to claim a permanent partial disability claim, which be more than $100,000.

And a headset would have cost about $10.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Smart Keys: Not So Smart for Motorcycles?

Wall Street Journal 30 April 2011 by Jonathan Welsh
"Imagine beginning a ride only to find that you cannot steer.That’s what could happen with certain Ducati motorcycles because of a potential problem with their electronic steering locks, which are part of their anti-theft systems."

The bikes affected are the latest models that come with an electronic ‘smart key” that allows the rider when carrying the key (i.e. in their pocket) to get on the bike, start it and ride away without having to actually handle the key. However, during testing it was found that “under very specific conditions” the electronic steering lock could fail to disengage automatically during the process of turning on the bike’s ignition on and starting the engine. If this happens a rider could potentially start the bike and begin riding while the steering is still locked – an obvious hazard!.

Ducati are recalling the bikes.