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Ergonomics and Safety

In the late 1980s I was a graduate student at the University of Miami. Under the supervision and mentorship of Dr. Shihab Asfour, our team was conducting research on ergonomics, biomechanics, and manual material handling. At UM, I learned a lot about the "down-to-earth" human factors and the importance of ergonomics for improving health and safety of both industrial and office workers. Some of the research was sponsored by Florida Power and Light and focused on prevention of musculoskeletal injuries. Digging and shoveling jobs ranked high as triggers for back injuries, and we looked for solutions. When we learned of a new invention in which a short handle was added to a shovel to keep the body more upright and minimize stress on the back, we bought such a shovel and went to work. We modified the handle (by adding a cardan joint) to minimize wrist problems and improved the design of the handle to allow for better adjustment to the worker's height and hand length. We then tested the new shovel in the field, and the results were very positive. Later on, we used Electromyography (EMG) to verify that indeed there was less muscle exertion due to the addition of the handle. We published the results in a 1993 article.

This section lists some work done on analysis of human-machine systems outside of aviation.


Degani, A. (2004). Incorrect Blood Pressure. (A book chapter, from Taming HAL, about medical devices and patient safety.)

Degani, A. (2004). The Grounding of the Royal Majesty. (A book chapter, from Taming HAL, about maritime safety.)

Degani, A., Kamel, S. A., & Asfour, S. S. (1989). The effect of task duration on the subjective ratings of perceived exertion. In A. Mital (Ed.), Advances in Industrial Ergonomics and Safety. NY: Taylor and Francis.

Degani, A., Asfour, S. S., Waly, S. M., & Koshy, J. (1993). A comparative study of two shovel designs. Applied Ergonomics, 24(5), 306-312.

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