NCSU Human Factors and Ergonomics (HFE) Area
Home Intro NIOSH TPG Area Tour People Publications Courses Equipment Links Contact Us



- Will Heath

Research Overview
Will is currently assisting Shruti Gangakhedkar on an ergonomics based project for Duke Energy.  The project is focusing on muscle fatigue in assembling and disassembling scaffolding for nuclear station maintenance tasks.  The project will look at two alternative methods of clamps and tie downs.  Currently, Will is busy developing a statistical model to test the effects of the many factors that go into this job.  In the coming months, Will and Shruti will begin to filter the data and begin a statistical analysis.

January 2010

Will is currently trying to identify a thesis topic. He is interested in biomechanics and usability testing.

(Back to top)

February 2010

Will is also beginning to assist Xuezhong Wang with an eye tracker project focusing on the differences in searching and reading.  Will intends to look for statistical coherency between the two activities.

(Back to top)

March 2010

Will is currently using the SAS procedure known as SPECTRA to analyze visual search data from Xuezhong’s dissertation experiment. The procedures look for patterns in eye velocity over a set time period during different tasks. The data collected consists of two parts, reading and searching. Little can be learned from the SPECTRA analysis of the searching data without the reading counterpart. Will is beginning to use this same procedure on the reading data to start comparing the two tasks.

(Back to top)

April 2010

Will spent much of April finishing assisting Xuezhong Wang with his eye tracking research. He finished conducting SPECTRA analysis on reading data to compliment the data already received from the searching experiment. The results have now been passed on to Dr. Hsiang to see if there is a need to continue this research.

Will is currently working on a literature review for ergonomic handle design. He plans to focus on the trade offs between perceived usability and experimentally measured usability. Two types of analysis that he will be investigating are conjoint analysis and prospect theory.

Will also attended the 2010 International Conference on Fall Prevention and Protection.

Will continues to work with Shruti Gangakhedkar on her project for Duke energy. They have begun their data analysis and hope to complete that section of the project in the next month.

Will has identified an area of interest for his thesis. From the International Conference on Fall Prevention and Protection, Will has decided to investigate ladder safety, focusing on slip-outs due to too shallow of a setup angle. Will is currently conducting a literature review to isolate a specific topic. From his readings, he has identified two possible areas of continued investigation. Will would like to see how an individual's physical characteristics such as height, weight, and other anthropometric conditions affect the initial ladder setup. Another area Will is currently exploring is the effectiveness of feedback systems to prevent a poor ladder setup.

(Back to top)

August 2010

Through the month of August, Will has worked diligently on reading literature on extension ladder safety. Will believes that he has found a viable area of research for a master's thesis. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there were 122 fatalities from improper extension ladder usage last year. Will's literature review along with discussions with his advisers will help him to determine a specific area to focus on for his thesis.

(Back to top)

September 2010

From his literature review, Will learned about a ladder setup technique known as the fireman's method. In this method, one stands with feet at the bottom of the ladder and arms outstretched to a ladder rung, as illustrated in the picture below. By using anthropometric data, Will found that this technique tends to set the ladder slightly shallower than the 75.5 degrees recommended by OSHA. This has led Will to further look into what an acceptable setup angle range would be.

(Back to top)

October 2010

In October, the Ergonomics Center of North Carolina held a workshop to show graduate students proper usage of one of their tools. Jeff Hoyle from the center came and discussed the usage of the lumbar motion monitor. The demonstration included tips on proper setup, software usage, and possible applications.

(Back to top)

November 2010

As part of the final stages of developing a thesis topic, Will has been engaging in talks with many research professionals to help clarify his area of study and identify possible problems with his thesis. Will has worked with Dr. Simon Hsiang during his first year of graduate school, but Dr. Hsiang is leaving to continue teaching at Texas Tech in January. Related to this, Will has also begun to seek research advice from Dr. David Kaber. Over the next few weeks, Will will also begin talks with members of the NCSU psychology department that share some of his same research interest involving ladder safety.

(Back to top)

December 2010

Will has begun to look at possible engineering controls that could be added to extension ladders to ensure proper set up. Possible controls could include pendulum and bubble levels. Other ways to ensure proper set up could be included in the ladder's safety labeling. Will has also noticed a lack of consistency in the safety labels themselves. Below are pictures of a possible color coded level that could be used.

(Back to top)

January 2011

Will plans to conduct an in depth product survey for extension ladders. He has begun to inspect local hardware stores for different types of ladders available as well as which ones currently use a leveling system. He will also use this survey to check the safety label coherence and prevalence. In the two pictures at the bottom you can see two labels that express the same information but in different formats. The only difference between the two ladders themselves is that one is aluminum and that other is fiberglass.

(Back to top)

February 2011

Will has begun to work part time for the Ergonomics Center of North Carolina. One of his first jobs was to test the advantages and disadvantages of a new force sensing resistor system. Will will use his knowledge of the system to train other graduate students at NC State as well as employees at the Ergonomics Center on how to use this tool along with possible applications. This system will primarily be used for hand tool design evaluation.

(Back to top)

March 2011

Will has been busy this month completing work for the Ergonomics Center of North Carolina. He completed an author specific literature review. He is also currently working on a topic specific literature review to be used in conjunction with his last review. Along with 3 other students, Will completed a journal write up for a paper on the optimal monitor position in endoscopic surgery. The paper is currently undergoing revisions and should be ready for journal submission in the upcoming month.

(Back to top)

April 2011

Will has continued his work for the Ergonomics Center of North Carolina. Along with two other NCSU ergonomics students, Will is working on a topic specific literature review to support one of the Ergonomics Center's projects. Will has also teamed with other students from UNC's Gillings School of Global Public Health to work on two occupational safety and health papers. One that focused on occupational exposures to mercury and another paper that focused on the occupational hazards of autobody spray painting. The article on optimal monitor position in endoscopic surgery that Will and three other students completed has been submitted to Applied Ergonomics and is currently undergoing the peer review process.

(Back to top)

August 2011

During August, Will has worked with fellow researcher Meghan Rogers collecting data at the NC State Veterinarian School. Will used a force sensing resistor to collect localized pressure data in the hand of equine veterinarians during their hardest and most awkward tasks. This data will be used in conjunction with goniometric data for biomechanical models that Ms. Rogers will be creating for her thesis work. Will also created Excel files that are able to note the times of peak values of localized pressure data during different subtasks of the veterinarians.

(Back to top)

September 2011

During the month of September, Will has worked to finish his evaluation of the ErgoPAK Force Sensing Resistors for the Ergonomics Center of North Carolina (ECNC). Upon completion of his evaluation, Will gave a presentation to the employees of the ECNC. This presentation included information on the advantages, disadvantages, and possible uses of the tool. Will also provided a product demonstration and a data analysis template. The template was used to add time stamps to the recorded data which were not originally provided by the data collection system.

(Back to top)

October 2011

Over the course of the month, Will has worked on a funding proposal for his thesis research. The NC Occupational Safety and Health Education and Research Center provides funding to students who wish to begin a short term project that is directly involved with occupational safety and health. Will submitted a proposal for a project entitled, "A Study of the Perception of Risk Associated with Extension Ladder Falls." At the end of the month, Will was notified that he had received his requested funding. The funding will cover all his expenses for the project including costs for materials and subjects. He has also received funding to present his research at Applied Ergonomics Conference in March, should his paper be accepted.

(Back to top)

November 2011

In November, Will has worked to finish obtaining his IRB approval and design his experimental apparatus. Will completed and submitted an IRB application for, "An Investigation of Risk Perception in the Use of Extension Ladders." The application is currently in its final stages of acceptance. Will also worked to design the two phases for his experiment. Will designed a computer based program to test subjects on what they think is a proper set up of a ladder. He also worked to design a new safety label to add to the ladder that he will be physically testing. Will is finalizing all parts of his experiment with the aid of fellow NIOSH Trainee Kinley Taylor, and will begin data collection soon.

(Back to top)