Case Studies: Forensic Ergonomics and Human Factors
Kathy Kawaja was retained as an expert witness by Wingate Law Firm in Miami, Florida for a legal case in which Carnival Cruise Lines was sued by a casino worker claiming a back injury related to dealing blackjack and craps. Issues considered included: assessing the physical demands on the musculoskeletal system as they relate to dealing blackjack and craps in a cruise ship casino, the relationship between the dealer’s back injury and the physical components of the job based on biomechanical principles and knowledge of ergonomics-related risk factors, and a review of published studies examining musculoskeletal injury risk in relation to working in casino environments.
Dr. Alison Smiley prepared an expert report concerning the safety of monocular (one-eyed) parcel van drivers in a case in which UPS was sued by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission. Issues considered included: the demanding nature of the driving task in downtown environments with frequent stops in areas with many pedestrians, the impact of monocular vision on depth perception and field of view, and published studies examining performance and crash risk in relation to monocular driving.
Thomas Smahel prepared an expert report concerning visibility issues that contributed to a collision between two cyclists on a recreational trail. Issues considered included: visual search behaviour on curves, impact of view obstructions such as nearby trees and shrubs, cyclist familiarity with the recreational trail, perception-reaction time, stopping sight distance requirements, and traffic control devices such as signs and pavement markings that can be used to delineate paths of travel.
Dr. Don Donderi prepared an expert report concerning a trip and fall accident involving a grandmother who ran to try and catch her grandchild, who had started to fall off a playground structure ladder. In doing so, the grandmother tripped and fell over a metal bar placed low to the ground between the green posts. The report explained that the grandmother, who was emotionally aroused and whose visual attention was therefore concentrated narrowly on the grandchild at risk, could easily have missed seeing and attending to the scuffed metal bar, which did not contrast greatly with the playground sand beneath it. People do not usually look at their feet when they walk (or run), and do not usually expect to find a hard-to-see metal bar just a few inches off the ground as an obstacle in their path.