Exploring the need for and application of human factors and ergonomics in ambulance design: Overcoming the barriers with technical standards
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Ergonomic risk factors, such as excessive physical effort, awkward postures or repetitive movements, were the leading causes of injuries amongst EMS workers in the United States, of which 90% were attributed to lifting, carrying, or transferring a patient and/or equipment. Although the essential tasks of patient handling, transport, and care cannot be eliminated, the design of ambulances and associated equipment is modifiable. Our aims were to identify the extent of Human Factors and Ergonomic (HFE) considerations in existing ambulance design standards/regulations, and describe how HFE and the standards/regulations were applied in the EMS system. Through an extensive environmental scan of jurisdictionally relevant standards/regulations and key informant interviews, our findings demonstrated that existing standards/regulations had limited considerations for HFE. As a result, HFE principles continue to be considered reactively through retrofit rather than proactively in upstream design. We recommend that performance-based HFE requirements be integrated directly into ambulance design standards.
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