In this project, I visited my local veterinarian’s office to conduct a three-part ergonomic evaluation, each on a significantly different physical task.

First Task Evaluation: Surgery with Dr. Joshua Erde

In the first section of my project, I completed an ergonomic evaluation of one of the attending veterinarians (Dr. Erde) performing a surgery. I analyzed his posturing and work height and used this information, along with basic anthropometrical data (age, sex, height, weight) and used 3DSSPP to model the amount of unnecessary forces generated during this position.

I also completed a few ergonomic risk assessment surveys, which include the Ergonomic Risk Analysis Checklist, the Ergonomic Hazard Identification Checklist, Workstation Checklist, Task Analysis Checklist, and the Hand Tool Analysis Checklist. During the various analyses, I found that the veterinarian handled tools that were too small for his large hands, as well as performed actions which employed repetitive, excessive rotation of the wrists. In addition, during the surgery, although the surgical table is allowed to be adjusted for height, he kept it at a position lower than his elbow, where it is recommended to be at or higher than elbow height for a surgery such as this (depending on the intricacy of the work). In addition, his neck was flexed in an extreme position, which can cause musculoskeletal injury if held for a long period of time.

I recommended to keep the table adjusted for the proper height, to utilize the fatigue mats (because he complained of ankle strain), and to use the loupes (that were in his office) to prevent musculoskeletal injury related to prolonged neck flexion.

Second Task Evaluation: Lifting Animals with Mary (Veterinarian Technician)

In the second section of my project, I ergonomically evaluated a simple lifting task, where a veterinarian technician was observed picking up a 45-pound dog. While conducting the analysis, I also utilized a Materials Handling checklist, an Ergonomic Hazard Identification checklist, and a Risk Analysis Checklist. I found that Mary (the vet tech) used improper form while lifting the dog—her knees were out of alignment and her back was not straight during the lifting action. She also experiences a lot of stress related to the noisy environment where she works, as well as fatigue and back pain from lifting loads.

I recommended that she asks for help with loads over 40lbs or loads where she believes she cannot handle herself (muzzled, high energy larger dogs).

Third Task Evaluation: Retrieving Files with Sharie (Client Service Representative)

The third section was performing an ergonomic evaluation on one of the client service representatives, Sharie. I performed an analysis of her often-performed task where she must slide a giant movable file rack across its tracks to retrieve files behind it. Sharie complained of back pain and arthritis, so I felt that it was important to analyze her movement. As a result, I found intense twisting at the hip while moving the file rack and inputted this positioning data (along with her anthropometric data) into 3DSSPP. The results showed a significant weakening of the hip, wrist, shoulder, and torso while performing that action.

I recommended that instead of twisting at the waist, she can keep the file cabinet rack close to her body (obviously not while pushing) and push and pull the rack in a backward/forward direction relative to her body instead.

Follow up:

The evaluation concludes with a follow up, where everything seemed to improve, and my recommendations were followed. I still am in communication with the members of the hospital and still take my dogs there for care.

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©2020 by Alyssa Gaull.