Development of a QFD Based Collaborative Design Approach to Reduce Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs)

By Himan Kanishka Gardiye Punchihewa and Diane Elizabeth Gyi.

Published by The Design Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Participatory ergonomics can help reduce the risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Its potential can be enhanced by increasing user participation and by helping to provide pragmatic solutions to reduce workplace risks. Research is being conducted to examine the potential of a Quality Function Deployment (QFD) based design approach in reducing work-related MSDs by helping to establish design solutions for equipment and processes. In this pursuit, research has been conducted to investigate potential worker involvement in the participatory process by evaluating their ability to identify risks and user requirements for design to help reduce work-related MSDs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a sample of workers (n=22) in three different case study areas. Their line managers (n=6) were also interviewed. Observations and Rapid Entire Body Assessment (REBA) analysis of the work tasks were carried out to supplement and triangulate the worker interview data. The study showed that the workers were able to identify risks and requirements related to tasks. All the workers expressed concern about manual handling. Issues related to awkward postures were also identified by the majority of workers in all three case study areas. The risks and requirements for task improvement extracted from worker interviews were prioritised and details were added from the researcher observations. Findings will inform the development of a QFD matrix-based collaborative design approach to establish design solutions and potentially reduce work-related MSDs.

Keywords: Musculoskeletal Disorders, Participatory Ergonomics, Design Methods, QFD

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 3, Issue 6, pp.209-224. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.612MB).

Dr. Himan Kanishka Gardiye Punchihewa

Research Student, Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK

Himan graduated in year 2001 with upper second class honours in Mechanical Engineering from University of Moratuwa, the premier University in Sri Lanka for engineering education. He was then a Research Assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering on a Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) funded project on biomass energy. Himan was then awarded a scholarship to follow a Masters programme in Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong in year 2002. Having completed his M.Sc., he went back to University of Moratuwa to take up a lecturer position in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in year 2004. He has involved in industry related and university based projects while teaching both undergraduate and postgraduate engineering students. After working in the department for three years, he was granted study leave and was awarded a scholarship to further his education in ergonomics at Loughborough University. His PhD is co-funded by Loughborough University and through a World Bank funded project to improve relevance and quality of undergraduate education (IRQUE) in Sri Lanka.

Dr. Diane Elizabeth Gyi

Senior Lecturer, Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK

Diane is a Senior Lecturer on the Ergonomics programmes in the Department of Human Sciences at Loughborough University. She has significant experience of research in the area of health ergonomics (work related musculoskeletal problems e.g. driving, construction) and applying this to the design of products, services and systems. Recent and current projects include preventing and managing the risks of back pain in business drivers funded by the HSE/DoH (2000) and more recently by The Bupa Foundation (2007); developing ergonomics data, methods and tools for design teams (EPSRC 1999, 2004 and 2007); and improving the user experience of ‘smart’ home technology (the Dti, 2003).

Previously, she has worked as an Occupational Therapist for 7 years which has given her insight into the damaging effects that poorly designed equipment and facilities can have on confidence, mobility and quality of life. Diane is currently a Scientific Editor for Applied Ergonomics, and a member of the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics. She has also been a Member of several Networks e.g. the Steering Group of the EPSRC EQUAL Network (2001-2003) and the EPSRC Peer Review College (2003-2005). In addition, her research has been widely published in journals and conference proceedings.


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