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   Presented on Monday, December 12, 2005 - 2:30 PM at the American Public Health Association
133rd Annual Meeting & Exposition in Philadelphia, PA

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"Ergonomic Status and Health Assessment of U.S. Locomotive Operators"

Eckardt Johanning, MD, MSc, Paul A. Landsbergis, PhD, MPH, Raymond Luhrman, BA,and Siegfried Fischer, PhD Eng.

There is a paucity of occupational health information of U.S. Railroad operators in the general literature. We conducted a comprehensive ergonomic and health status survey and inspection of locomotive cabs and seats. A random sample of 2687 BLE union members was chosen out of a total of 38,208 members from the US and Canada. A seven-page questionnaire consisted of whole-body vibration, ergonomic features of cab and seat design, and health status related questions in freight locomotives. The response rate was 46.9%. Based on the self-administered questionnaire 75% of the RR engineers experienced back pain, compared to 41% of the controls (sedentary civil engineers) (Crude odds ratio (OR) = 4.32, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.31-5.64). The goal of this study was the assessment of cab and seating conditions in U.S. locomotives currently in service and the subjective rating by the vehicle operators. Almost 2/3 of the RR engineers (n = 1019) complained about particular seat and cab design problems in the older and the newer “wide body” locomotives. Most frequently, the engineers complain about the cab lay out (49%), followed by vibration (22%) and air conditioning/ventilation (11%). On a scale from 1 to 4 (1 = excellent, 4 = unacceptable), the railroad engineers rated their seats on different adjustment and comfort aspects from 3.02 to 3.51, while the control group rated their chairs from 1.96 to 3.44. Conclusion: There appears to be a deficit regarding ergonomic cab and seat design in older and newer U.S. locomotive and preventive interactions deem necessary.

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize and discuss ergonomic factors and hazards of operators in a transportation industry (rail) which has not been adequately studied before.
  • Identify ergonomic risk factors for musculoskeletal injuries in the rail industry (train operators).
  • Develop and discuss prevention and research priorities for intervention.

Keywords: Occupational Exposure, Occupational Health







"Whole-body Vibration related Ergonomic Study of U.S. Railroad Locomotives and Operators "

Dr. Johanning presented "Whole-body Vibration related Ergonomic Study of U.S. Railroad Locomotives and Operators " at the 3rd International Conference on Whole-Body Vibration Injuries (June 2005), in Nancy, France. Below you'll find a copy of the presented materials. Alternatively, download the PDF file here.

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Reproduction only permitted with written permission.





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