2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 31-11
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM


LEE, Donghwan, Ergonomics Center, Texas A&M Health Science Center, College Station, TX 77843, GIARDINO, John R., Department of Geology and Geophysics, High Alpine and Arctic Research Program, Texas A&M University, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843-3115, BENDEN, Mark, Ergonomics Center, Texas A&M Health Science Center, College Stationo, TX 77843, DENGO, Carlos, Berg-Hughes Center for Petroleum and Sedimentary Systems, Department of Geology and Geophysics, College Stationo, TX 77843 and RSSER, C. Suzanne, Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX 77843, dlee1@sph.tamhsc.edu

Poor ergonomic behavior is becoming an increasingly high health risk in our modern environment of high computer and smartphone usage. The Department of Geology and Geophysics recently undertook a multi-level intervention to introduce students, staff and faculty to proper practices of ergonomic health in classrooms, labs, and computer workstations by enhancing their ergonomic knowledge, behavior, and health outcomes. This campaign was the result of discussions with industry executives who reported that in many companies >40% of new employees were coming to them “ergonomically injured”. Many students are not aware of the long-term health impact of their ergonomic injuries as the initial symptoms can be easily ignored. A high rate of injured new employees is an expensive challenge that can be prevented by ensuring new graduates are well trained on ergonomics in college and are able to develop proper work habits during those years of training.

The multi-level intervention included an education component and changes in organizational culture and physical environment for students, staff, and faculty. Online pre and post-test surveys were distributed and collected at the beginning and end of the intervention over an academic year. For the pre-test survey, a total of 552 students (Undergraduate students: 447, Graduate students: 66) responded to the survey. For the post-survey, a total of 108 students responded to the survey. The results showed that students’ knowledge about ergonomics was improved by 25%, and that they were more aware of the impact on their health and their behaviors. Most significant results for employers and the University were the high number of average hours per day (4 hours) spent on smart phones and the dominant position these devices occupy in students’ daily lives.

The intervention showed short-term success in knowledge and behavior improvement. The long-term impacts for industry partners on the health outcomes for their future employees should be examined to allow the intervention impacts to be improved and the cost impacts calculated for the Geoscience industry. We will be expanding our program to address ergonomic health in the use of microscopes and other repetitive activities including those in the field.