Ergowatch gives Canadian software a lift

By Mike Moralis
|CHRR, Guide to Healthy Workplace|Last Updated: 05/28/2002

A software program designed to assess and reduce the risk of back injuries in industrial settings is being transformed into a broader tool that will also be able to evaluate the risk of repetitive stress injuries in workers’ hands and arms.

The Ergowatch software developed at the University of Waterloo has been available for a little more than a year, but there hasn’t been an aggressive marketing campaign. In spite of that, “we’ve sold copies all over the world,” says Richard Wells, head of Ergonomics and Safety Consulting Services (ESCS), a university-based cost recovery unit where academic and workplace expertise intersect.

What makes the ergonomic measurement and analysis system distinctive is that can assess the load or impact of a task – the combination of weight that is lifted and cumulative time spent in a position or posture, linking that with a worker’s physical characteristics (size, age, sex) to predict potential pain and injury. The software was developed to quantify the physical demands associated with work processes in the automotive manufacturing sector.