Ergonomics on two-wheels: Where are we heading? – Part 1

I am a motorcyclist. Thus, it came to no surprise that I did my postgraduate on just about that – aside from of course; giving me a good excuse in convincing my Mother to purchase for me a 500cc hotrod (“research investment” was the term I’d use). However, back then – in 2011 and all the way after a year of my graduation, 2015; there is very little – I would say, interest, in regards to ergonomics on two-wheels. 

When I did my research on motorcycle ergonomics, the feedback I’ve gotten, even from well-respected academician wasn’t really – delightful. I was told that motorcycles are for the poor and downright not ergonomic to be used as transportation; so my study was practically useless. I wasn’t sure in regards to the actual intention behind the feedback that I’ve gotten from the said academician, was the particular individual was just trying to be rather provocative in nature just to test on my standings? Or was he really that close-minded? 

Till this very day, I don’t know the actual reason. In fact, in this stage of my life, I have little concern on the actual reason behind the strange behavior of the particular academician. Just that sometimes, the memory on that particular event did bugs me since it did change my perspective on the acceptance level of ergonomics on two-wheels – even among wise academicians.

Generally, ergonomics on two-wheels is rather a no man’s land. It is a dead zone. There are extremely limited research publications on this particular niche. Even if there are, the research scopes will either be on anthropometry or WBV exposures. Publications on motorcycles are mostly, yes, you’ve guess it: accidents and safety. Granted however, it had been more than a year or so since my last outing in looking for research journal. Not a good thing, I know. I dare say that there should at least some growth on the publications; I may dwell into the matter later. Previously, I wasn’t keen on investigating the matter because I was basically learning the ropes on my new teaching post and focusing on the task I am handed with. In addition, due to some cause of event – though an understatement; motorcycle ergonomics had left a very distasteful flavor at the root of my tongue and mind. Thus, I wasn’t really interested on what was going on in regards to niche; until recently.

A few days ago, very generous colleague had share information that her Husband, upon purchasing a new bicycle was provided with ergonomic adjustment service. I knew that such service is provided – in fact it was documented e.g. Henri H. C. M. Christiaans and Angus Bremner (1998). In this particular study, a bicycle simulator was used to test on several ergonomic fit and retailers were indeed thrilled with the simulator and would like to purchase it. The simulator could be utilize by potential customer in finding for the right bicycle that suits them best or having the capacity to adjust the vehicle to fit them best. So, the information given by my colleague was not really groundbreaking. But, the attention to details in regards to the ergonomic adjustments and fit provided by the retailer are absolutely revolutionary and tears-of-joy-inducing, well, at least to an enthusiast such as me. 

I would like to give a full review on the system or any other similar systems that are used by retailers in providing the ergonomic adjustment/fit to their potential customer. However, prior to that, I would like to first conduct a field study. I would like to visit the retailer and see the service first-hand in order to ensure that I will provide the accurate information, so, will be back with the article soon.

Dr. Muhammad Izzat Nor Ma’arof
Senior Lecturer, Mechanical Engineering Department,
Faculty of Engineering and Quantity Surveying,
Persiaran Perdana BBN, Putra Nilai, 71800 Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia
INTI International University.
Mobile: +6013-636 8691

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Guidelines on Ergonomics Risk Assessment at Workplace 2017

Launching of the ergonomics risk assessment at the workplace: a collaboration between HFEM and Department of Occupational Safety and health (DOSH)

The long awaiting ergonomics risk assessment at the workplace guideline 2017 had been official launched by the Department of Occupational safety and health (DOSH). The Guideline had been extensively developed since 2015 with the collaboration of between members of HFEM and DOSH.  The project which started in 2015 comprised of members from various industrial background namely in the field of safety and health. This includes ergonomics expert from PETRONAS, Telekom Malaysia (TM), Sime Darby Plantation and members from academic background including UPM, UKM, UPNM, CUCMS. From the Ministry of Human Resource (MOHR) including DOSH and SOCSO. In addition, the guideline was reviewed thoroughly by both Malaysian Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE) in improving the content and the methodological issues related to the new ergonomics guideline.

This guideline will be a new additional guideline by DOSH that relates to ergonomics and industrial hygiene. Previous guidelines include:

  • Guidelines On Occupational Vibration (2003)Guidelines on Occupational Safety And Health For Working with Video Display Units (VDU)
  • Guidelines on Occupational Safety And Health For Seating at Work
  • Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health For Standing at Work
  • Guidelines on heat stress management at workplace

The implementation of the new guidelines derived from the need to standardized ergonomics risk assessment method when reporting issues related to physical ergonomics either based on report needed based on the investigation ordered by DOSH or compensation report by SOCSO. By having this guideline, safety practitioner will be able to prepare a standard report based on either initial ergonomics risk assessment or an advanced ergonomics risk assessment that can be easily reviewed.

In addition to the need for standardization, ergonomics risk assessment guideline will assist the industries in reducing the prevalence of MSD among their workers, reduce error due to ergonomics hazard and increase productivity based on improvement and corrective action proposed.

This guideline comprises 10 parts including

Part 1: Introduction – Objective, Scope, Application, Def
Part 2: Planning And Conducting Era
Part 3: Process For Initial Era
Part 4: Process For Advanced Era
Part 5:  Hierarchy Of Control Based On Ergonomics Approach
Part 6: Documentation
Part 7: Review Of Assessment
Part 8: Responsibility And Accountability
Part 9: Instruction, Training And Consultation
Part 10: Record Keeping

An important aspect of this guideline is the appointment of a   trained person that will conduct the ergonomics risk assessment. The trained person is the assessor that will conduct the assessment based on either initial ergonomics risk assessment or advanced ergonomics risk assessment. In addition to specific modules for trained person, specifics topics should be used for awareness program to workers.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Shamsul Bahri
President HFEM

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HFEM-SOCSO Program (1) 2017


Our first program in 2017, Introduction on Ergonomics Assessment Method  had been successfully held on March 20, 2017 at Cyberjaya Integrated Excellent Safety and Health (CIESH) Seri Kembangan, Selangor. This program is organized by Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Malaysia (HFEM) and supported by Pertubuhan Keselamatan Sosial (PERKESO).

A great participation from  Occupational Health and Safety practitioners from various companies which includes the manufacturing business – Perodua, and academician – Universiti Malaysia Pahang, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia  and Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Senior Managers, Consultants as well as Occupational Health Doctors.


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Professional Ergonomist Certification in Malaysia

The impetus for professional ergonomist certification was sparked off by a few executive members of HFEM, as well as a few other HFEM members who echoed a strong need for a professional ergonomist certification in Malaysia. It has been a long, 7 years since the establishment of the society and we are slowly, but surely gaining strength in numbers and recognition from various local and international agencies. As the numbers of practicing ergonomists grew in Malaysia the need for a Malaysian professional ergonomist certification became very significant.

Various professional bodies in Malaysia such as Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM), the Bar Council, Malaysian Medical Association have long been established in Malaysia, and they serve the vital function of ensuring the integrity of their respective professions. Doctors, engineers and lawyers are widely known to the Malaysian public as very respectable professions due to their nature of work. Therefore, both the public and the authorities require that those professions should be regulated to protect the welfare of the public and to ensure the highest standards of practice.

In a developing country like Malaysia, there is a growing recognition of the field of ergonomics and human factors. Both the authorities and the industry have steadily increased their demand for ergonomic and human factors services from practicing ergonomists. A professional ergonomist certification in Malaysia will require a certain level of standards to be met in terms of training and experience.

A certification committee has been set up in HFEM comprising of academicians, industrial practitioners and representatives from the relevant authoritative bodies in Malaysia such as Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) and NIOSH Malaysia. Various certification models have been reviewed from USA, Europe, Australia and New Zealand among the committee members. The certification committee expects a finalized certification model to be ready by the end of this year, to be endorsed by the International Ergonomics Association. Till then, we hope that all members will be ready to apply for the certification once the process is completed.

Vice President

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