Name of Department

Occupational Physiology & Ergonomics

Objective

  • Undertake research programmes in the field of Occupational Physiology, Health and safety in industry, Environmental Physiology, Ergonomics and related areas

Functions of the Department

  • Recent research programmes encompass research studies in the field of service industry, like telecommunication, women in vulnerable occupations, like fish processing, cottage industries, beedi making, etc., Human-computer interaction, Work analysis techniques, etc. Department had undertaken studies in the field of ergonomics of agricultural work methods and implements. Present interest goes in Occupational health and safety management systems, with reference to organized sectors of industry.

Details of Scientific & Technical staff

Name

Designation 

Email 

Scientist 'C'
majumderj{AT}icmr{DOT}org{DOT}in
Mr. S. M. Kotadiya
TA
 
Mrs. B. G. Shah
Technician 'B'
Mr. D. S. Kshirsagar
MTS

Laboratory Facilities & Instruments

  • Climatic Chamber
  • Thermocam
  • EMG recorder
  • 3-D Motion Analysis System
  • 3-D Whole Body Colour Scanner
  • Strength Measurement System
  • Eye Movement Tracker

On going Proejcts

Work practices and health hazards of women in fish processing works in the coastal regions (ICAR)

Global production, consumption and trade of fish products have increased as result of the growing concern for more intake of protein in the diet. In many countries of the West and Asia including India, employment in the fish processing activities is on the rise. In the coastal regions of Gujarat, Orissa, Kerala and other areas, large number of women are engaged in fish processing, both in the organized and unorganized processing units. In all the sea coast provinces in our country, sea fish processing is a promising export-oriented business. About 12000 skilled and unskilled women workers are employed in different units in the coastal Gujarat. The workforce is primarily women and migrated from Kerala and other states and is employed by the industry through contractors and agents. Long standing work practices, poor working conditions, extremely cool work environment, and monotonous and repetitive type of work bring about occupational health problems among these women. With this view a project is being carried out (1) To find out the work-related stresses of women in fish processing plants (2) to assess the contribution of environment and working conditions towards the stresses among these women (3) to identify the ergonomic problems in the existing set up of the plants (4) to suggest the implementation of ergonomic work practices in alleviating work stresses of the women workers. (5) to formulate the ergonomic guidelines to introduce work simplification and improvement interventions, e.g., standardization of workplace, work methods and work schedules.

Ergonomics of Human- Computer- Interaction Compatibility Assessment (DST sanctioned project)

The use of computer is widespread at almost all workplaces in offices and production units now a days. Estimated that presently there are about 12 million computer users in the country. This growing population has been subjected to increased diversity in their work pattern, associated with VDT workstations, procedure of work, material interfaces and human computer interaction environment. Literatures from the West indicate that the repetitive nature of VDT work results in an increased incident of health problems, e.g., visual and muscuclo-skeletal discomfort, psycho-physiological as well as psychosocial stresses among professional VDT users. Musculo-skeletal pain and discomfort (together with eye strain) constitute at least half, in some surveys up to 80 percent, of all complaints and symptoms of computer operators, in both Europe and North America. One of the enduring concerns of the human-computer environment is to mitigate the effects of changed work characteristics and stresses on the ultimate outcome variables (e.g. work performance, reliability, health and comfort.There is lack of systematic investigation that explores the interrelationships between posture, comfort, reliability and performance in computer based tasks. In order to ascertain the hypothesized posture-comfort-reliability-performance interrelationships, the present research proposal is made to:

  • Elucidate the factors of work stresses of computer users, with analysis of multiple ergonomic aspects of work, including long-term effects of musculo-skeletal, and biomechanical, psycho-physiological as well as psychosocial stresses;
  • Determine the interrelationships between posture, comfort, reliability and performance in computer-based tasks;
  • Evaluate and prioritize HCI stress factors in relation to health and performance; and
  • Suggest measures to mitigate the stress and strain and remedial work design interventions for computer operators.

Thereby it may be possible to explore the determinants of HCI compatibility /incompatibility, measure the physical and psychophysical work load, identify the critical work stress in relation to health and performance consequences and suggest ergonomic work improvement measures.

Biomechanics of sitting — influence of seat features and modes of sitting (CSIR sponsored extramural project)

The sitting research has two aspects — (i) recognizing the seated features and (ii) the characteristics of the sitter, sitting modes, and associated stresses. Studies are in progress to understand the interaction of the seat characteristics, postural orientation and spinal dimensional features of the sitter, with reference to loading on the spinal and para-spinal muscles and tissues. The multidimensional scaling of the seat characteristics and sitting modes, based on electromyography and biomechanical analysis of upper and lower back, will elucidate the sound inputs for ergo-design of a seat for the office and computer work. Studies also cover the conventional floor sitting modes, being adopted by women in rural and cottage industry settings.

Future Programmes

  • Occupational health & health promotion among call centers workers

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Project Completed

Gender Issues Affecting Health of Women Working in unorganized Sector (ICMR multicentric Task Force project)

There are approximately 100 million women working in unorganized sector of industries and constitute about 96% of the total workforce. They are mainly temporary workers with welfare and facilities almost non existent in this sector. Unregulated work hours, monotonous and repetitive work, inclement working conditions, etc. affect their health and performance. As the sector is not covered under Factories Acts, there is no policy of compensation for injuries and accidents. Moreover poor nutritional status aggravates the ill effects of occupational exposure to physical, chemical and biological agents. There is discrimination for daily wages in comparison to their counterpart. Gender inequalities in income and wealth make women especially vulnerable to poverty. Social norms about the divisions of responsibility mean that many women have very heavy burdens of work, especially those who combine employment with domestic duties, pregnancy, and childrearing. Within the household women often receive little support amounting to stress due to their dual role. The study aims at finding out the working environment in the region specific unorganized sectors (bidi rolling and weaving industries) and the morbidity profile of women in this sector. The study will also focus on how the gender issues are affecting their heath and its relationship with the morbidity pattern.

Biophysical Human Model for Heat Stress and Strain Assessment

Human thermoregulatory models have practical utility in selection and utilization of manpower with respect to industrial heat management. In this context, concept of biophysical human model emerges newer avenues for heat stress and strain assessment for human exposure to hot environment. A new biophysical human model is developed based on characteristics of the Indian population, that simulates heat exchanges across multiple body segments and layers, ascertains segmental triggering response and predicts human exposure limits. Three hundred and twenty steps derivation examined the heat exchanges through body segments — head, trunk, arm, hand, leg and feet, comprising of layers/compartments as blood, viscera plus skeleton, muscle, fat and skin (30 compartment model). The segmental and compartmental heat exchanges demonstrated a characteristic behavioral pattern for (skin and fat layers) as Shell and (core and muscle layers), as Core. Segmental skin and fat temperature tended to diverge beyond a certain threshold body core temperature (the point of divergence), while segmental core and muscle temperature tended to converge at a threshold body core temperature (the point of convergence). These triggering responses were found to vary from segment to segment.

Shift work in the Hot Environment

Work time planning and scheduling have obvious implications in better health, comfort and safety of the workers, and human resource management. A detailed review of the available work scheduling practices elucidates the shift work systems, work rest guidelines and health and safety issues. Accident risks in different shift schedules, with reference to studies in the textile industries, particularly during the summer months, were examined.

Development of Multi-method Ergonomics Review Technique

Macro level analysis of work systems in an industrial organization encompasses analysis of the personnel subsystem, the technological subsystem and the external environment. To bring in better organizational effectiveness, ergonomics researchers examine work systems with divergent approaches. An attempt was made to develop a multi-method ergonomics review technique for its application in work place analysis and design. The sections include job specialization, skill requirement, general physical activity, manual materials handling, workplace design, work posture, work time schedule, physical and chemical environment, displays and controls, machinery, hand tools, work safety, job characteristics, training, organizational commitment, etc.

Ergonomic analysis of stresses of women working in telecommunication

The world of work is undergoing a dramatic change with the massive influx of computer technology. Conventional workplace arrangement is no longer compatible with the newer work environment (e.g., VDT work stations, procedure of work, physical environment, material interfaces and human-computer interaction environment). Apart from the objective changes in the work situation, schedules of work, etc., there are intangible changes in the worker's perception of work. While the extent of changes depends on the organization and the transitional state of technology implementation, the nature of impact largely depends on the psychosocial and psychophysical context of the work environment. One such employment sector is the telecommunication sector (e.g., the telephone exchanges), where influx of computer and advanced telecommunication technology has brought in increased diversity in the pattern of work. Large number of women workforce has not only been subjected to increased diversity in work pattern, but also the monotonous as well as repetitive work have cumulative psychophysical stresses and adverse effects on health and performance. One of the enduring concerns of the human-computer environment is to mitigate the effects of changed work characteristics and irregular work schedules on the ultimate outcome variables (e.g., work performance, reliability, satisfaction, health and comfort). In order to ascertain the relative weightages of physical and psychophysical workload and stresses in human-computer environment, the study elucidated the factors of work stresses of women in telephone exchanges, with analysis of multiple ergonomic aspects of work, including long term combined effects of irregular work schedules.

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Publications and Research Reports

 

Miscellaneous Information

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