Plenary Speaker 1

Professor David C. Caple

La Trobe University
Melbourne, Australia

Topic: Sustainable ergonomics interventions to MSD risks in industries


Successful ergonomics interventions focus on optimizing human wellbeing and systems performance as described in the definition of ergonomics by the International Ergonomics Association (IEA). Sustainable interventions outlined by Zink (2012) provides a model based on economic, ecological, and social elements. Dul (2021) described the major driver for capital investment in ergonomics interventions was productivity improvements rather than wellbeing. Five case studies in this presentation will focus on sustainable interventions to prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).

The “Green Star” or “WELL” program in office design focuses on re-usable materials and biodegradable products as well as minimal energy footprint in the design. One of the points in this program includes ergonomics assessments in the design stage prior to the selection of internal fittings, furniture, and joinery. In the paint manufacturing industry, all the major manufacturers in Australia used ergonomics methods to assess MSD risks with paint packaging for community use. As a result, they agreed to eliminate the 20 litre cans from their range and only offer 10 or 15 litre cans.

In the banking industry all the major banks agreed to reduce the size and weight of coin bags to reduce MSD injuries to staff and customers. The domestic waste collection industry previously had teams walk behind trucks and tip the contents of household bins into the back of the truck. This resulted in fatalities from falling off the rear of the truck as well as MSD injuries. This system was not sustainable due to low productivity, injuries to the staff as well as spills from the bins. A new style of domestic waste bin was introduced that could be lifted by a mechanical arm on the side of the truck activated by the truck driver to improve productivity, reduce spillage and eliminate injuries.

One of the largest supermarket companies conducted ergonomics assessments of the fresh vegetables supply chain. Every time the vegetable was handled there was increased quality damage as well as injury risks for the workers. A system was developed to use the same container in the fields to collect the vegetables, store them on a pallet for transporting to the cool rooms and to display the vegetables on the supermarket shelves. These studies indicate that the three primary elements for sustainable ergonomics interventions were productivity, safety, and product quality improvements.

About speaker

David Caple (MSc, Loughborough, UK) is an Adjunct Professor at Latrobe University in Australia in the Ergonomics and Health and Safety programs. He has led an ergonomics practitioner company in Australia since 1985 conducting Work Health and Safety research and practice projects for Governments and industry groups.

Having completed his science studies in Australia and ergonomics at Loughborough University, UK, David has been a guest researcher in Sweden and USA. He is a Certified Professional Ergonomist (CPE) in Australia, UK, and USA.

David Caple was the 16th President of the International Ergonomics Association (IEA) 2006-2009 and represented the IEA at conferences and meetings in 30 countries.

He has published research papers in several areas of ergonomics, and work health and safety, including the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). He was involved in the development of legislation relating to the prevention of MSD for the Australian government and led multiple industry-based MSD prevention projects. He participated in the USA Government Hearings on the prevention of repetition MSD injuries and has provided technical advice on MSD prevention in the UK, USA, Singapore, Sweden, and Hong Kong.

David was an independent member of Government OHS Advisory Committees for 15 years appointed by the Government Ministers and provides independent advice to the Australian Government through Safe Work Australia.

"Three primary elements for sustainable ergonomics interventions were productivity, safety, and product quality improvements."

Conference speakers

David caple

Professor David C. Caple

La Trobe University
Melbourne, Australia

Professor Arto Reiman

University of Oulu


David J. Wortley

United Kingdom


Professor Sidney W.A. Dekker

Griffith University
Brisbane, Australia


Professor Andrew Thatcher

University of the Witwatersrand
South Africa

Hon. Dr. Palanivel Thiaga Rajan

Minister for Finance and Human Resources
Tamil Nadu, India


Dr. Sarita Dara

Civil Aviation Authority
New Zealand


Dr. Pawan Vora

SUNY Buffalo

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