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Developing Workplace Safety Methods and Technologies

13 September 2012, at 9:19am

US - As part of an effort to sustain innovation in poultry production and processing, six continuation projects are focused on novel types of engineering and technology research activities that address critical issues facing poultry production from the growout house to the processing plant, says Dr Doug Britton, manager of the Agricultural Technology Research Program (ATRP), Georgia Research Tech Institute. Here he discusses developing workplace safety methods and technologies.

ATRP has several initiatives in the area of Worker Safetyspecifically targeted for the poultry industry.

A recent study investigated the use of the WiiFit gaming system as an intervention method to reduce the risk of lower back injuries during lifting compared to the traditional methods of strengthening hip flexor muscles.

Analysis comparing the leg and back motions of the study subjects measured during the lifting tasks conducted before and after the training program showed that using the WiiFit as an intervention improved lifting technique by reducing the change in back and knee angles and increasing the change in hip angle.

In addition, participants found the WiiFit to be enjoyable and reported improved cardiovascular endurance over the Traditional and Control groups. Researchers have also used MotionPlus Wiimotes to record human kinematic motion data on a laptop PC.

The rate gyro data of the Wiimotes was processed to examine the joint angles of the participants performing the lifting tasks. Overall, the WiiFit gaming system shows promise of being a low-cost and yet effective physical conditioning program for poultry plant workers.

Researchers are currently focused on creating a low-cost, portable, and easy-to-use Mobile Motion Capture (MiMiC) system. The new MiMiC system is intended to be a tool for ergonomists and plant managers to use in the plant environment to assess workers’ movements as they perform their jobs without needing assistance from experts and expensive equipment.

The envisioned prototype will use a smartphone to record kinematic data from wireless motion modules. Data collection from Bluetooth 6-degree-of-freedom inertial motion units (IMUs) is underway with the ultimate goal of creating a field-testable prototype.