Physical Human Factors and Ergonomics (ERG120)

August 8 - September 30, 2022 (Online)

Learn how to identify the components of occupational tasks that can contribute to musculoskeletal injury and/or fatigue, quantify the risks using the most relevant ergonomics assessment tools, and integrate that information into conclusions regarding the acceptability of risk. This course will use physical ergonomics as an example of evidence-based practice by not only covering analysis tools, but also explaining their scientific basis and outlining their strengths and limitations for various work scenarios. You will also be introduced to the concepts of optimal task design and gain experience writing reports that summarize findings and effectively support conclusions. You will be challenged to assess many practical examples from a wide variety of workplace sectors, including manufacturing, health care, agriculture and others, and interpret data from sources that will not always agree, so that decisions can be made and defended. You will also learn about the various biomechanical, psychophysical, physiological and epidemiological criteria used in physical ergonomics, and how they can be integrated during the process of decision making.

Learning Objectives

At the completion of this activity, the learner will be able to:

  • Recognize, identify and prioritize the physical hazards within occupational task elements that contribute to the risk of work-related musculoskeletal disorders.

  • Review the most current biomechanical, psychophysical and physiological approaches and criteria used to quantify physical exposures and assess risk within occupational tasks

  • Identify and apply the appropriate ergonomic risk assessment tool(s) to occupational tasks, citing relevant resources

  • Measure and/or calculate the inputs and outputs for various ergonomics tools and interpret them appropriately

  • Address the ethics of physical ergonomics analyses and interpretation.

  • Calculate the acceptable loads based on the target populations selected.

  • Analyze, synthesize and interpret the outputs of multiple ergonomic risk assessment tools (approaches) to make a definitive decision about the injury and/or fatigue risk associated with a task

  • Write reports summarizing all the relevant findings and providing recommendations regarding task acceptability. Support all decision with data and relevant sources and be able to debate and defend decisions.

Headshot of Jim Potvin, PhD, CCPE

Instructor: Jim Potvin, PhD, CCPE

Dr. Potvin received a B.H.K. in Kinesiology from the University of Windsor (1986) and a M.Sc. (1988) and Ph.D. (1992) in biomechanics from the University of Waterloo. He was a professor for 23 years at the University of Guelph, University of Windsor and McMaster University, where is he now a Professor Emeritus. He is also the owner of Potvin Biomechanics Inc. Dr. Potvin researches in the areas of biomechanics and physical ergonomics. His basic research focuses on the study of joint mechanics and muscle fatigue and his applied research focuses on developing valid ergonomic methods to quantify injury risk in the workplace; including the assessment of manual materials handling tasks and the evaluation of risk of upper limb disorders. Jim has supervised over 70 graduate students, employed 60 graduates, and published over 90 scientific articles.