• Inspirational Kate Allatt

    We really enjoyed Designability's annual lecture last week and the inspirational Kate Allatt.

    Support Designability here.

  • Project to scan 1400 military personnel in 3D starts immediately

    InterAction of Bath, a leading Bath-based consultancy specialising in ergonomics and human factors, has secured a major contract with the Ministry of Defence that will see the company embarking on a programme to measure and provide anthropometric data on 1400 male and female military personnel, including Royal Marines, Parachute Regiment, and Brigade of Gurkhas. The project will focus on the use of 3D scanning to measure the size and shape of the personnel.

    Speaking about the contract success, Dr Dave Usher of InterAction of Bath said “We are delighted to once again be working with the Ministry of Defence. We have vast experience of measuring and providing anthropometric data for a range of clients and sectors.

    “In a large scale project such as this, accuracy is critical in providing the most reliable and useful data. Our 3D scanner is state-of-the-art and the InterAction of Bath team has the knowledge and experience necessary to manage and deliver data that our clients can rely on.

    “The field of human factors is gaining recognition and its value cannot be overstated in ensuring environments and equipment are well designed and future-proof. From designing railway depots to kitchens and even nuclear power station control rooms, human factors is being increasingly employed in the early stages of a project. It is crucially important that designers consider the way people interact with the equipment or environments they are designing. And this can only be done through the use of accurate ‘people data’ and by observing tasks as they are carried out.”

    The Ministry of Defence project will start immediately and will take 18 months to complete.

    September 2015

  • Check your BMI

    Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. While it is not the most reliable measure of health, a BMI outside prescribed ranges might indicate a need to lose (or gain) weight and improve fitness.

    Check your BMI here.

  • Anthropometry

    Earlier this year we teamed up again with TNO, this time to measure the anthropometry of MoD personnel. We're now halfway through the data collection phase, having measured more than 300 participants, using both manual measurement techniques and our SizeStream scanner.

    We hope that the data will help ensure a better fit between service personnel and the equipment (and vehicles) they use.

  • Ergonomics Training

    Training has kept us very busy this year, particularly our two-day Human Factors Practitioner course, which we have delivered all around the country.

    Over the years, it has proven to be a very successful course, but in the new year we intend to make it even better. We have plans to change the syllabus to include more examples and more practical sesssions to help delegates get to grips with the range of tools and techniques we discuss.

  • Secular trends

    InterAction of Bath has teamed with TNO, the Dutch research organisation to investigate the impact of human growth trends on the accommodation of armoured vehicle crew and passengers.

    It is well known that human beings are larger than we once were, a secular trend almost entirely due to factors other than genetics, with nutrition being particularly important. A concerning aspect is the rise in obesity. The socio-demographic risk factors for obesity in the general population are well known, but this is not the case for military populations. One might expect that, with the emphasis on ‘fitness for duty’ and a predominantly young cohort, there would be a reduced risk of obesity in the Armed Forces. However, the fact that disadvantaged sections of the population are more likely to be recruited might decrease this effect, since obesity is more common in disadvantaged populations, especially in women.

    Studies of service personnel in the US report that the incidence of Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 kgm-2 or over more than doubled between 1995 and 2005. In the UK the risk of obesity appears to be highest in the Army and Royal Navy amongst older, white personnel of lower ranks. There are obvious implications for the health of Armed Services personnel and for the design of the many systems within which the operators must be integrated. In a detailed study, TNO and the USAF found the weight of pilots had increased considerably, which led to more stringent requirements for the F35/Lighting II ejection seat.

    It is axiomatic that the crew and passengers should be well accommodated in Armoured Vehicles (AVs). Too often, however, a mismatch has been found between the AV design and the actual characteristics of the target population. For this reason, the Armoured Platform Anthropometrics Research Programme (AVARP) aims to develop the policy tools, techniques and methodologies required better to understand the physical integration of crew and passengers in AVs and Dstl is commissioning a study to determine the extent and significance of through-life changes to the fit of Armoured Vehicle crew in the current and future vehicle fleet.

    The project is ongoing.


    1 comment

  • How 3 Essential Patient Safety Steps Can Prevent Medical Errors

    Mistakes during surgical procedures are the most common medical error in 2013, and LifeWings, a team of international patient safety experts, offers three proven solutions to prevent these traumatic patient-harming events.

    See more

  • Noise-induced hearing loss and vibration project

    We have just about completed our second project for the Defence Human Capability Science and Technology Centre in the area of noise-induced hearing loss and vibration project .

    Read more ...

  • Seminar - The Role of Human Factors in an Ageing Society

    InterAction of Bath is planning a series of seminars for Human Factors and other interested professionals on the role of Human Factors in an ageing society. The purpose is to:

    - provide a forum for discussion and networking

    - promote the use of Human Factors to address issues faced by older people in their work and leisure

    - discuss whether Human Factors can help answer some of the current questions around health- and social care provision.

    If you're intersted in presenting or attending, please contact us for more information.

  • Shift work: coping with the biological clock

    A University of Surrey study concluded that the lack of sleep experienced by night shift workers interferes with the productivity and can cause health problems including:

    - Obesity

    - Metabolic syndrome (decreased HDL cholesterol, elevated triglycerides)

    - Glucose intolerance/diabetes

    - Heart disease and cancer.

    Night shift workers also have more accidents and errors are also more likely. For example, the incidence of seriously improper medical decisions was 36% higher for Interns working extended shifts rather than a traditional shift.

    Performing work tasks when the body is producing hormones that encourage sleep (circadian rhythm desynchrony) is thought to be the underlying reason. Most long-time or permanent night-shift workers do not show adaptation of their circadian rhythm to their work day, and less than a quarter show even partial adaptation. With a marked reduction of daytime sleep hours, night workers appear to be sleep deprived.

    Night shift workers are able to alter their circadian cycle in select work environments when there are no social or family commitments and when there is no natural morning light at the end of their night shift.

    For ergonomists, the study highlights the health and productivity issues related to working nights or extended shifts. While changing work methods can reduce the need to work nights, a night shifts are unavoidable in some industries. According to the author, encouraging an adaptive shift of the worker’s circadian rhythms to coincide with night hours may be favourable, except where there commitmet to night shifts is only brief, when no interference with the normal body rhythms is encouraged outside the use of stimulants such as caffeine.

    Melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland, is primarily produced during the night-time body state. The concentration of melatonin, which can be measured in the plasma, saliva, or as a urinary metabolite), provides a good indication of the circadian clock time. Modifying the levels of melatonin through the use of light treatment during the 'biological' night could help regulate the sleep/activity cycle. Exercise, social cues, timing of food ingestion and food content also seem to influence the circadian clock to varying degrees. A worker's toal sleep hours could also be increased by taking a low dose of melatonin and lying down in a dark room in the early evening prior to a night work shift.

    Switching from a day shift to a night shift (with a likely 20-24 hours of no sleep), may lead to a performance decrements similar to those associated with having an illegally high blood alcohol level.

    J Arendt

    Occupational Medicine




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