This paper presents a comprehensive review of the national institute of operational safety and health (NIOSH) health-hazard evaluation report for the Yellowstone national park. The evaluation was initiated by a request by the occupational safety and health (OSHA) for evaluation of the implications to employee’s wellbeing of riding snowmobiles as a means of transport during park patrols.
This defines the physical expectations of the users of the snowmobiles in the park during the patrols. The ergonomic evaluation was performed to determine the actual physical dimensions of the snowmobiles. It is pertinent to note that the adjustability of the main components of the snow mobile is useful in comparing with the implications of past evaluations of the snowmobiles in other parts of the world. Some of the main components evaluated include the handle grip, seat, throttle and the steering bar. Through a comparative evaluation where other snowmobiles were evaluated and their dimensional adjustability were put into perspective based on the health risks involved. The force measures for throttle were determined for a Polaris snowmobiles. The health risks the rangers were exposed to be determined through a physical review of the postures of the rangers when operating the snowmobiles.
The NIOSH performed a scientific impact assessment of the park. The process involved in the assessment was aimed at increasing the material content of the researchers before drawing conclusive recommendations regarding the snowmobiles. A comprehensive survey was performed where workers were interviewed on various issues regarding their duties and responsibilities, their medical background and profiles, as well as incidences of any work related injuries. The responses of the employees were pertinent in identification any relationship between the patrol responsibility and work related injuries. Another approach used in the assessment involved actual measurement of the snowmobiles dimensions.
The seat dimensions were determined as well as those of the throttle controls and the handle bar. It is pertinent to note that the adjustability of these three features determine the posture of the snowmobile user. The state of the roads around the park was determined. This was instrumental in developing a practical framework for the conditions the rangers were exposed to during their line of duty. Some of the key things determined from the assessment at this stage are the risk involved when workers jolted when riding the snowmobiles. The nerve functions for the workers hands were also determined.
Results from the research:
The research work was comprehensive and a number of findings were identified that could be helpful to enhancing the wellbeing of the riders of the snowmobiles. It was found that most of the workers were experiencing back, arm and hand problems. These problems were associated with musculoskeletal disorder. Another key issue identified in the park was the state of the round, which was found to be rough and resulted extensive physical disturbance while riding the snowmobiles (Ger, Letz, Landrigan, 1991). The adjustability of the snowmobiles was found to adequate but the positions chosen by the workers were in many instances harmful to their health. It was determined that the handlebars were not close enough to the seat to encourage a firm grip on the handlebars.
This yielded an uncomfortable position for the riders. Another thing that was revealed during the assessment was the use of excessive force when riding the snowmobiles by the riders. The riders used more force than it was required to hold down the throttle resulting to strains on the body. It was also revealed that some of the rangers hand coordination was inhibited resulting to tremors because of continued use of the snowmobiles (Anttonen & Niskanen, 1994).
The solution to the challenges faced by the rangers was multidimensional. The management of the park had a role to play in enhancing the working conditions as well as the employees themselves. It was recommended that the management of the park provide snowmobiles that have been adjusted to the specifications of an individual and not universal adjustment for people who are physically different. The snowmobiles ought to be modified in some areas such as the throttle control, which had to be pinched by a thumb. Moreover, it was the obligation of the park’s management to ensure that the roads within the park were not bumpy.
Repairs should be implemented on the road network within the park to make patrols easy and friendly. The management should seek manufacturer’s advice on the enhancement of the suspension systems as well s the seats of the snow mobiles used in the park. On the other hand, the employees should develop habits that are central to improving their wellbeing. The riders of the snowmobiles should always adjust the seats to a position they can be able to access the handlebars with ease. Moreover, the employees should be vigilant in solving issues related with body pains and injuries. This would be instrumental in getting treatment promptly. It is pertinent that the time spent riding the snowmobiles be maintained at a minimum (Daniel, Robert, Randy, Fred, & Susan, 2001).
Anttonen H and Niskanen J (1994). Whole body vibration and the snowmobile.Arct Med Res 53:Suppl. 3:24–28.
Daniel J. Habes, Robert B. Dick, Randy L. Tubbs, Fred R. Biggs, & Susan E. Burt, (2001). Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Health Hazard Evaluation Report 99–0283–2855.
Gerr F, Letz R, Landrigan P (1991). Upper–extremity musculoskeletal disorders of occupational origin. Annu Rev Publ Health 12:543–66.