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Rhodes University
Magazines | Education 2011-05-26 05:47:02
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    odam x Conference 2011 Research for the missing link ODAM CONTRIBUTING TO A BETTER WORLD mercedes Benz South africa presents progressive ergonomics a uniquely Sa experience delegates tour grahamstown and beyond Primed to make a difference ergonomics in the developing world Matching the human capabilites and decent working conditions with productivity and efficiency

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    A word from the conference chair and organiser The awarding of the status of hosts of ODAM X to Rhodes University in Grahamstown demonstrates a dedication to Africa and to developing countries in general. Over the course of 27 years and now 10 conferences organised by the ODAM group, the macro-ergonomics approach has developed from a conceptual stage to a set of basic principles considering all aspects of work processes and organisation, including the dissemination of knowledge and experience as well as its implementation. Due to growing research in the area of macro-ergonomics, in industrially advanced countries today no change management is put into place without the participation of the employees affected. This is similarly true for the application of Occupational Health and Safety guidelines, ergonomic product design, ergonomics in hospitals and many more areas. Looking back, ergonomics has been a key factor for developing the wealth of these countries by providing and sustaining a skilled, motivated and healthy workforce. Although the field of macro-ergonomics is highly relevant in terms of the practical application of ergonomics, in industrially developing countries ergonomics is still relatively young and most research is done in the area of micro-ergonomics. However, bringing things to practice requires a macro-ergonomics approach and delegates at this year's conference brought much experience from the Industrially Advanced Countries in contribution to discussions on issues of local development. In support of the topic, 'Research for the missing link', speakers presented on the bipolarity of Human Factors design, such as participation and leadership, micro and macro, theory and practice, and many more. In each instance, one extreme needs to be balanced against the other in order to find solutions to ergonomic challenges in the workplace. This includes linking industrially developing and industrially developed countries. We use the same technology and the humans are biologically similar, but we have different education and different cooperation and working cultures. This is not only valid for developing and developed countries, but equally for the different Matthias Göbel. developing countries. So each region has to develop for its own. We may, however, apply the same macro-ergonomic principles to conduct a most straightforward progress. This can be achieved only by an equal consideration of human and economic factors, paving the way for sustainable improvement of the living and working conditions. Putting this into practice, ODAM X contributed a smart link between these different experiences, which varied in many ways from socio-economical structures, to differing academic contributions and different disciplines. The conference organisers wish to thank all the conference participants for contributing to a successful and enriching conference. Professor Matthias Göbel ODAM X 1

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    OVERVIEW ODAM X: Research for the missing link ODAM X, the 10th International Symposium on Human Factors in Organisational Design and Management, marked the coming of the conference to Africa for the first time. Rhodes University had the honour of hosting the inaugural South African chapter of the conference. A primary aim of the conference was to find common ground between and to match human capabilities and decent working conditions with the productivity and efficiency goals of the corporate environment. Ergonomics provides the concept of matching human and economic factors by developing, applying and sustaining human capabilities in the most productive way. Ergonomics is a relatively unknown area of study in South Africa, a country in which the labour law experiences an ongoing struggle against an inordinately high unemployment rate. It was thus significant that one of the underlying aims of the conference was to help find a means to provide decent but productive work. Demonstrating ODAM's dedication to emerging countries, it was also fitting that it was hosted in Africa. "Development in the so-called 'emerging countries' cannot be supported simply by applying established concepts and results from elsewhere," said Professor Matthias Göbel, Rhodes Head of Human Kinetics & Ergonomics and ODAM X conference chair. "Rather it requires a purposeful redevelopment of existing experiences for a particular context. On a macroscopic level, this includes linking industrially developing and industrially developed countries. ODAM X 2 ODAM X Oral presentation at Eden grove lecture theatre. put this into practice by providing a smart link between these very different socio-economic experiences and the varied academic contributions arising both from different regions and disciplines." The conference had an equal focus on research arising out of both industrially advanced and industrially developing contexts. It also had a commitment to using this knowledge to tailor ergonomic solutions that fit the particular needs of each context. About 170 high-level experts from all over the world, including the president of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) and presidents of national ergonomics societies, discussed recent research in the field of Macro-Ergonomics. Michelle Roberts, Chair of the ODAM Technical Committee, thanked Göbel for his enthusiasm in hosting ODAM. In addition to attracting delegates from 25 countries, Rhodes also hosted the International Ergonomics Association Council meeting immediately prior to the conference. Andrew Imada, President of the IEA, praised ODAM as one of the most active participants in the IEA. "One of our key values is how broadly we think about problems as ergonomists," said Imada. Describing the importance of taking knowledge, scholarship and learning seriously, particularly with regard their

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    Participants efficacy for economic growth, Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Saleem Badat, said that "a skills approach denudes higher education of its wider social value". Drawing parallels to the theme of ODAM X - Human Factors in Organisational Design and Management - he said that the 150-odd presentations and papers testify to the fact that "there must be a love for social justice and humans that occupies the practice of organisational design and management. "What is good for the profit margin is not always good for the workers," he added. "These are not technical or neutral issues and we must ask whose interests we seek to advance when we engage with these issues." "The conference topic was motivated by a focus on the bipolarity of Human Factors design," said Göbel. "Improving productivity succeeds only with the worker, and, reciprocally, decent working conditions require to improve productivity. Drawing together participation and leadership, theory and practice, human and technological aspects, presentations from both developing and advanced countries consider the whole range from micro to macro ergonomics topics and reflect the complexity of real world design problems." Find more information at www.odam2011.net ODAM X 3

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    The keynote speakers Andy Imada (President of the International Ergonomics Association). In addition several interactive workshops raised interesting debates on real world issues relating to office ergonomics, occupational health practice in industrially developing countries (IDCs), visual display terminals, airport ergonomics, musculo-skeletal disorders in IT companies, and special sessions on worker participation and organisational culture in the mining industry. The keynote speakers in particular highlighted challenges facing IDCs. 4 ODAM X ODAM X attracted several high-profile researchers from a variety of professions and disciplines who presented on their recent work in the field of macro ergonomics. Kazutaka Kogi (Japan). The importance of social justice The President of the International Commission on Occupational Health (ICOH), Kazutaka Kogi, who is from the Institute for Science and Labour in Kawasaki, Japan, provided a keynote address on the topic of 'How to support the participatory planning of practical workplace improvements'. Emphasising the importance of social justice in the workplace, he described the link between participatory planning Jan Dul (Netherlands). and risk management. Fast becoming recognised as good practice in industrially developing countries (IDCs), participatory action-oriented training aims to identify good practices and actions that have a real impact. By learning about locally feasible goals and focusing on actions that have a real impact, these programs help to sustain actions towards stepwise progress. Kogi is the author of "The Ergonomic Checkpoints" and co-author with Rhodes ergonomist Pat

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    Cupcakes for the celebrating the 10th ODAM conference. Scott of the 2010 IEA/ICOH ergonomics guidelines for IDCs. Linking ergonomics to business goals and strategies Plenary speaker Jan Dul, of the Rotterdam School of Management at Erasmus University in The Netherlands, spoke about 'The future of ergonomics: how to grow business demand for ergonomics.' "Ergonomics is applied in nearly all businesses, but in most cases people don't call it ergonomics, and often they are not even aware of practising ergonomics," he said. "But there are tremendous opportunities as ergonomics can be applied just about anywhere with no limitation." However, the ergonomists contribution is not often asked for, so the question is how to grow the demand in the external world. Dul has a background in ergonomics, has worked in occupational health and now works in business ergonomics. "Mandatory ergonomics is necessary to protect people," he said. "But the best model is to link ergonomics to business strategies and goals." He described how guidelines, standards and legislation have not been effective in creating a business interest in ergonomics. He said instead that there is a need for ergonomics knowledge to interface between op- Rhodes HKE Postgraduate students (from left to right: Kirsten Huysamen, Tyron Louw, David Goble, Caley Chaplin). erations management and human resource management. He also pointed to the necessity of demonstrating the business value of ergonomics through believed profit drivers. Developing countries: achieving more with less strain Regarded by many as the mother of ergonomics in South Africa, Rhodes University's Pat Scott took a look at ergonomics as a fundamental means to assist Industrially Developing Countries (IDCs) achieve sustainability. She asked the question of whether we are bridging the gap or if it is still widening. As the marketplace and the workforce become increasingly more global, she said, so the abuse of the cheap and migrant labour grows with it. Such exploitation results in abrasive behaviour. She warned that "IDCs can no longer be ignored or isolated without dire reverberations throughout Industrially Advanced Countries (IACs) and indeed the world." She said that sound ergonomic practices had a vital role to play in helping the world achieve sustainable productivity. Ergonomics has a four-pronged effect: it has the potential to ensure worker safety and well being; increase efficiency; improve productivity; and improve the economy. "Sustainability must become a plan of action - it is not a buzzword but a long-term commitment. Good ergonomics is good economics but this is yet to be realised in many IDCs." She described the ergonomist's role in IDCs as assisting a low-skilled labour force to achieve more with less strain by taking into consideration local conditions, cultures and labourers, and attaining an understanding regarding appropriate work structures and organisation at a grass-roots level. The compounding negative factors of poor living conditions and their associated ODAM X 5

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    Candice Christie (Senior lecturer at HKE) with her husband Warren Henry. health problems, limited education, low productivity and low income coupled with poor nutrition, low work capacity and physically demanding tasks results in a hopelessly negative spiral. Scott believes that ergonomists can help reverse that spiral by placing respect for workers' lives at the centre of sustainable grown and development while also helping them to help themselves. This involves participatory involvement both at the coalface and within the community that aims to achieve a balanced mix of employers ensuring their workers rights and of employers and employees sharing responsibilities. "Ergonomics can't solve the global financial fiasco but it can help in addressing the inequalities," she said. Widening the contexts for change Andrew Imada, President of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) examined ODAM's contribution to a better world and 6 ODAM X looked at macro ergonomic links to our future. He took delegates through the historical development of ODAM from a 1982 discussion in a Seattle bar to the international organisation that it is today. "ODAM has come a long way in a short time and academics are now talking to industry to help solve problems," he said. "There has come about recognition of the value of the macro ergonomic approach and the need to widen the contexts for change beyond organisational, production, and work." The traditional ergnonomist's contribution was driven by occupational health and safety, and perceived as a regulatory role. But there is a meeting point, he explained, where corporate and business strategies become cross functional and the ergonomist can play a role in downsizing and lean production, quality management, enterprise resource One course of the Gala dinner meal. ODAM X conference bags. planning systems, organisational redesign, global competitiveness and sustainability. Hybrid value chains (HVCs) are defined as organisations and social action groups working together to create business opportunities and social change. Quite often, however, there is an understanding of what the problem is but the organisation often does not have the scale to fix it. "The IEA, federated societies, networks, technical committees, ODAM and teams of individuals can have a disproportionate effect in HVCs," said Imada. "It is not enough to help children by building orphanages - you must go to the source and understand where this problem comes from."

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    Patricia Scott (South Africa) and Eric Wang (Taiwan, General secretary of the International Ergonomics Association). Birthday cake for the celebrating the 10th ODAM conference. Mercedes Benz South Africa presents progressive ergonomics Mercedes Benz South Africa also gave a presentation on preventing and managing work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs) and the use of Occupational Risk Examination Profiles (OREPs) in the automotive industry. With its largest ever shipment of Mercedes-Benz cars from South Africa totaling 3280, the company boasts one of the most advanced manufacturing systems in the world. With some 2185 employees at the very high technology plant in East London alone, the company is one of the area's biggest employers and an important contributor to the Eastern Cape economy. The company is also an example of one of the most progressive automotive plants with respect to ergonomics. "Our employees are our most important people," said Barry Canning. "At 98.9% we have one of the highest attendance rates in the world." This is linked to a stringent organisational health management plan and the establishment of a very well integrated health and wellness centre Chao Mulenga (South Africa). through which they aim to create a pleasant working environment in order to continue to attract people of the highest caliber. The occupational health and wellness practitioners play a key role in having the right person in the right job, conducting both assessments and referring workers for rehabilitation where necessary, and also in helping establish a healthy working environment. "An OREP is a summary of the key risks of the job and is central to these activities," said Lynn Mynhardt, who described the value of this exercise as helping the company to identify its challenges and manage risks as well as comply with the equity act and the basic conditions of employment. ODAM X 7

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    Primed to make a difference in the developing world Report back from Andrew Todd, Chairperson of the SA Ergonomics Society and a Lecturer in the Department of Human Kinetics and Ergonomics at Rhodes University Ergonomics in South Africa is a relatively new discipline, with the Ergonomics Society of South Africa (ESSA) only being inaugurated in 1985, and becoming a federated society of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) in 1994. Since this time we have seen the steady growth of the discipline as companies become aware of the social and financial benefits that could be derived from the implementation of sound ergonomics principles. ESSA currently has around 100 members with approximately 30 of these members having the required qualifications to be registered ergonomists. Recent socio-economic data indicates that there has been rapid social and economic development in most parts of Asia and South America over the last 20 years, and it would be difficult to separate them from the rest of the developed world in terms of life expectancy and income per capita today. It is clear that the divide between the have nots and haves in this sense has shrunk significantly. However, South Africa is a particularly interesting case to follow as we have fol- 8 ODAM X lowed very similar trends for most of the time since the end of WWII. However, in the 1990s suddenly the income per capita stops increasing and the life expectancy starts to Andrew Todd (Chairperson of the South African Ergonomics Society and lecturer and the HKE department) with his wife Louise. reduce significantly, so much so that the life expectancy in South Africa today is around 52. Although South Africa is characterized by some industrially advanced industries (up with the best in the world) we are also faced by a myriad of health problems, termed the quadruple burden of disease, with HIV/AIDS, chronic disease of lifestyle, infectious disease and violence affecting performance at work. The implications are that the South African ergonomist is faced not only with a complex array of factors in the work environment but we also need to take both the social and health context of the workers into account. The bottom line is that there is no such thing as a universal solution, ergonomic interven- tions need to be highly contextualized. Hosting a conference such as human factors in Organizational Design and Management (ODAM) is imperative for the development of ergonomics in South Africa. The participants at the conference were from 25 countries reflective of a diverse range of developing and developed economies. This fits perfectly with the paradox of the South African context with our unique mix of highly sophisticated and most basic work environments. Thus the conference provided us with the opportunity to interact with people from both aspects of the divide. The conference therefore facilitated the sharing of success stories and ideas, and developed an understanding of the diverse

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    Tonya Smith-Jackson (USA). contexts within which ergonomists apply their trade. With 15 South African institutions and over local 40 participants from around the country, the conference provided us with a unique opportunity to grow the understanding of ergonomics in the country. Of particular importance was the fact that numerous students from Rhodes University and other academic institutions were able to attend the conference at minimal cost. All of these local participants were able to interact with and learn from the international leaders in the world of ergonomics with Professor Kazutaga Kogi providing insight into the successful implementation of ergonomics in developing areas and the IEA president, Andrew Imada, presenting on macro-ergonomics in highly developed communities. ESSA was also able to forge closer ties with the other federated societies such as Brazil, Nigeria and Germany amongst others during the conference. With collaborative work between the societies now imminent, such relationships are imperative in the development of South African industry. Sindisiwa Dyosi (South Africa) and Edith Mufimadi (South Africa). Miriam Mattison (organising tourist visits and junior lecturer at the HK department). Ergonomists strive to use the systems approach to ensure compatibility between tasks and the human operator, thereby improving health of the workforce while simultaneously improving productivity. As such the ergonomist is in the unique position to truly make a difference to South Africa and, through the education of the future ergono- mists of the country; the ODAM conference played a pivotal role in finding at least some of the missing links in the chain of health, safety and productivity at the workplace in South Africa. ODAM X 9

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