Trackball modification based on ergonomic evaluation: A case study in the sociology of ergonomics in Israel

Ido Morag, David Shinar, Keren Saat, Anna Osbar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

In 2001, production technicians at Intel's facility for manufacturing semiconductors in Kiryat-Gat began complaining of wrist discomfort and pain while using trackball work stations, the primary equipment for inputting data to their production environment. The complaints were received with considerable seriousness, indicating that the Incident Free Culture - a proactive attitude towards ergonomic matters - that had been created at the plant when it was established in 1997 had firmly taken root. The author of this paper, the plant's ergonomics engineer (EE), was authorized to deal with the problem but within very strict constraints. Production of the silicon wafers could not be interrupted in any way and the clean-room environment had to be maintained. The EE contacted the Department of Industrial Engineering at Ben-Gurion University in nearby Beer-Sheva and a two-part investigation program was devised to determine, within the limitations imposed by Intel, the source of the workers' complaints. The first part of the program, a pilot investigation based on a sample of 20 technicians, indicated the need for extending the workstation's trackball angle from 9°to 24°to enable the technicians to work with their wrist in a more neutral posture. These results were subsequently confirmed by the main study involving 62 technicians divided into control and test groups. These results led to the implementation of the new trackball angle on all 900 workstations on the plant-manufacturing floor and became part of the baseline for future designs of all Intel plants worldwide. Intel's Incident Free Culture, the involvement of academia, and the immediate response to the subsequent ergonomic problems are all relatively new phenomena in Israel and an indication of the state of ergonomics in the country. In addition to the impact upon Intel plants themselves, both in Israel and abroad, the lessons to be drawn from these phenomena are being closely scrutinized by Israeli industry as well as various state bodies for further, more extended application.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-546
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Volume35
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2005

Keywords

  • Incident free culture
  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Workstation modification
  • Wrist extension

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